How can you reduce the cooking time to make a quick roast chicken for dinner? The easy answer is to spatchcock the chicken – and it’s easier than you think!
I can hear you groaning and turning away now, but wait, spatchcocking a chicken isn’t hard and it doesn’t take long. You will save much more time with the cooking than you spend on the preparation. For years – decades even – I refused to entertain the idea of spatchcock chicken. Somehow I had associated a spatchcock with a galantine or ballotine, both of which involve de-boning the bird, or birds, and stuffing them, sometimes with other birds – like a three-bird roast. I did attempt one of these once, in my cooking-is-my-hobby days. Now that is time-consuming and fiddly. Suffice to say I didn’t have another go.
So what exactly is a spatchcock chicken? Simply put, you remove the backbone and lay the chicken out flat(-tish). Because the bird isn’t as dense it takes less time to cook hence a quick roast chicken! It has the added advantage of crispy skin all over, so what’s not to like?
These days I even spatchcock and freeze a chicken to take on holiday to cook. I’m very fussy about the chicken I eat, so I like to know that it’s come from a good home. A tip if you do this is to take a roasting bag so that you don’t have to clean the oven.
If you haven’t attempted spatchcocking before, see How to Spatchcock Chicken for a step-by-step guide then come back here for cooking instructions.
Quick roast chicken for a midweek dinner
- 1.5 kg spatchcock chicken at room temperature
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 lemon
- Salt and pepper
- Set the oven to 200°C fan, gas mark 7
- Line the baking tray with a double layer of foil, or use one layer of extra-thick foil
- Quarter the lemon
For the roast chicken:
- Lay the chicken breast side up on the baking tray. Rearrange the legs if necessary so that they aren't tucked under the chicken
- Drip the olive oil over the chicken and rub it in with your hands - messy but effective
- Season well with salt and pepper
- Squeeze the juice from the lemon quarters over the chicken and add more seasoning if necessary. Tuck the lemon quarters under the chicken
- Cook for 45 minutes or until the chicken is done
Check that the chicken is ready:
- Insert a meat thermometer into the fleshy part of the leg and check that the temperature is at least 80°C OR
- Insert a skewer into the fleshy part of the leg and check that the juices run clear
- When the chicken is done, take out of the oven and leave to rest for 10-15 minutes before carving and serving
- If the chicken is not at room temperature, add 10-15 minutes to the cooking time
- This chicken is excellent for a summer weekend lunch cooked to be ready an hour before you want to eat it, served with salad and lots of mayonnaise