Several months ago, I discovered a delicious item at Trader Joe’s: spatchcocked chicken! This is a whole chicken that’s been butterflied and then marinated with lemons, olive oil, and fresh herbs. What I love about it: well, it’s super flavorful, but it also cooks much faster than just putting a whole chicken into the oven.
I decided to try my hand at making my own version of this dish. Turns out, it’s pretty simple and requires only a few ingredients. Even better, we typically find whole fryers on sale (particularly this time of year), making it a frugal menu option.
Here’s what you’ll need:
- one whole chicken
- 2-3 whole lemons
- sprig of fresh tarragon*
- 1 clove of garlic, minced
- 4 tablespoons of olive oil
- fresh sea salt & fresh ground pepper
*If you can’t find fresh tarragon, you could either use 1 teaspoon of dried. Another option would be a fresh sprig of rosemary.
Start by preheating your oven to 450°. Then, wash and pat dry your whole fryer. Then, lay it breast side down on a cutting surface.
Using kitchen shears, cut along the backbone.
Then, cut along the other side and remove the backbone entirely. If you don’t have kitchen shears, a sharp knife should work just fine. (I apologize if this photo kind of grosses you out, but many recipes I found online omitted the visuals, and I wanted to make sure you understood the directions!)
Next, flip the chicken over and press down. It should now lay flat in a baking dish. Salt the chicken on both sides well.
Make the marinade. Mix the olive oil, fresh chopped tarragon, more fresh salt, ground pepper, and the juice from a lemon in a small bowl.
Spread the marinade all over the chicken.
Slice up an extra lemon (or two, depending on your preferences and the size of your lemons), and set them on top of the chicken. Now if you have time, ideally you’d let this all marinade, covered, in the fridge for a few hours before cooking. If not though, you can go right ahead and pop it in the oven.
Here’s the awesome part: this chicken will cook up fast! Start checking it at about 35 minutes. Your chicken will be done when a thermometer into the thickest part of the breast reads 165°.
You’re going to want to let the chicken set for about 5 minutes before you separate it, so the juices don’t run out leaving a dry meat.
There is no shortage of side dishes you could serve with this chicken. I honestly kept it simply by heating up a bag of frozen veggies I found at Trader Joe’s (it was a blend of potatoes, mushrooms and green beans – yum!). But you could also use mashed or sweet potatoes, roasted root vegetables, rice, salad, cranberry sauce, rolls… you get the idea.
If you are looking for additional recipe ideas for whole fryer, check out this one, too:
Of course, you can see my Recipe page at any time for even more ideas.