Thursday, August 16, 2012

Citrus, Onion, & Beer Marinated Spatchcocked Chicken

Ah, spatchcocking. No, that isn’t something dirty (probably) and no, it’s not what they play with in Badminton. It’s a method of flattening out a whole chicken by removing it’s backbone so you can spread it flat across a grill so it cooks more quickly than leaving it whole.

I learned the essentials of technique and temperature from this link but used a very different mixture for the marinating process. Also note this is a recipe for grilling, so you will need either a gas or charcoal barbecue grill.


Here’s the bulk of the ingredients. Soy sauce, vegetable oil, several cloves of garlic, two medium oranges, some onion, and home dried red pepper flakes. The standard kind will work, but the hotter the better.

Not pictured, salt, a beer, and a lemon.


Into a food processor, add the zest of both oranges and a lemon.


Then peel and cut the oranges into chunks and add those too.


Half of a large onion or an entire medium onion is cute into pieces and added as well.


6 cloves of garlic finishes off the big solid ingredients.


Pulse several times to turn it into a pulp.


To this add a half cup of soy sauce, the juice of the lemon and a quarter teaspoon of salt.


Then add at least a teaspoon of red pepper flakes, probably double if you’re using the store-bought stuff.


Add half of a beer, and drink the rest. Or reserve it I guess.


And add a half cup of oil. Stir well, taste, and add more pepper or salt to taste, the marinade should be pleasantly salty.

This is your last chance to adjust the seasoning in a convenient way, as you’ll have to wash your hands thoroughly after working on the chicken.


Set that aside and get ready to spatchcock. Some high quality kitchen shears will really help out. If not, low quality kitchen shears… may work.


Lay the chicken down, back up.


Cut along one side of the chicken’s backbone, then the other. Optionally, pretend you’re performing one of Sub-Zero’s fatalities. Or… don’t.


Flip the chicken over and press down on the breasts until the bones crack and the chicken is flat.


Fold the wing tips back over themselves.


Submerge the chicken carcass into your marinade. You can reserve the backbone for making stock, or if you feel like a snack that finishes before the rest of the chicken, marinate it (and the neck) too. Let marinate at least an hour, but preferably longer. Overnight and kept chilled would be the best.


At least a half hour before you want to start cooking, and about two hours before you want to eat, turn on the grill or start your coals. When the grill is preheated to somewhere between 400 and 450 degrees or the charcoal is hot and covered with a fine layer of ash you’re ready to go.

Turn off one of the burners or spread the charcoal out to two sides of the barbecue grill.


For a gas grill, manage the heat in whatever way you’re familiar with, you don’t want the heat skyrocketing as soon as you close it, but doing it just in the open air isn’t efficient either.

This is how I do it, with a brick, or sometimes a thinner piece of wood.


Anyway, once the grill is hot and ready to go, lay the chicken down, breast side down first. Keep this side down for 8 minutes to give it a good sear.


Then flip onto the other side.


If you have one, stick a probe thermometer into the thick part of the chicken breast , it will make your life a lot easier. Monitor the temperature and continue to flip the chicken for even cooking, until the probe registers 180 degrees, roughly 45 minutes, depending on your heat management. The recipe I used called for 165 degrees, but it was still a bit bloodier than I’d like.


When the right temperature is reached, and the chicken has delicious crispy skin and coloring, remove it from heat and let rest for five minutes before serving.

Goes great with Sortatash!


Citrus, Onion & Beer Marinated Spatchcocked Chicken

  • 2 oranges, zested, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 1 lemon, zested and juiced
  • 8 cloves garlic, peeled
  • one medium onion, cut into chunks
  • 1/4 cup of soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons rep pepper flakes,
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 8 oz. of beer
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • one 3-4 pound chicken, cleaned and dried.
  1. Add the citrus zest, orange flesh, onion chunks and garlic to the food processor. Pulse until smooth and pour into a large mixing bowl.
  2. Add soy sauce, beer, red pepper flakes, lemon juice, slat and oil, then stir well. Season with additional salt and pepper flakes to your taste.
  3. Spatchcock the chicken; cut out the backbone by cutting along the side of it with strong kitchen shears, then flip the carcass over and press down until the breastbone cracks and the body flattens.
  4. Marinate in the mixing bowl for at least an hour, preferably overnight in the refrigerator.
  5. 2-3 hours before you want to eat, preheat your grill as necessary. When it is good and hot (400-450 degrees F or the charcoal is covered with a fine layer of ash) turn off one of the heating elements to have an indirect heating section, or bank the coals on two sides of the grill.
  6. Insert a probe thermometer into the chicken. Grill the chicken skin side down for 8 minutes to give it a good sear, then flip onto other side. Move the chicken to indirect heat area if using gas grill. Flip as necessary to ensure even cooking.
  7. When the probe thermometer registers 175 degrees F, remove the chicken from the grill, let rest for five minutes. Check for doneness, then serve.

One last note, remember to check out +5 Food of Eating on Kickstarter, if you haven’t already!


  1. O_O Looks tasty! How'd it taste?

    1. Great texture and aroma! Could have used a few more hours of marination though, I was in a bit of a rush that day.