I know, I know! You don’t have to say it. That word makes me giggle too! But spatchcock really just means to butterfly the chicken. The technique of splitting and flattening the bird yields a perfect roasted chicken and exposes more of the skin to crisp up. What can be wrong with that?!? And by adding the homemade mulled apple cider, this chicken is definitely ready for the Thanksgiving table. Sure, you can go buy your apple cider at your local grocery store, but fresh cider warmed with citrus and spices in your own kitchen is so satisfying and very delicious! I highly recommend making extra cider for you to sip on. It will stay sweet and unfermented for up to two weeks in your refrigerator and you can even spike it for an alcoholic treat.
Spatchcock Chicken with Apple Cider Braised Chicken
1 whole chicken
1 large sweet potato, peeled and chopped
1/2 butternut squash, peeled and chopped
1 onion, peeled and chopped
1 head of garlic, top sliced off
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 cup mulled apple cider (recipe below)
salt and pepper to taste
Homemade Mulled Apple Cider
10 sweet apples, gala or braeburn
1 orange, sliced
4 cinnamon sticks
1 Tbsp whole cloves
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
I started with the deliciously sweet mulled apple cider. Did you know that apple cider is really just unfiltered apple juice? I always thought there was so much more to it. So I sliced up the sweet red apples, placed them in my food processor and chopped until the consistency of applesauce.
I lined a bowl with cheese cloth then poured the pureed apples in the bowl. You should see some juice coming right through the cheese cloth right away.
I squeezed the cheese cloth until all of the juice dripped in to the bowl. Zachy helped me out a little bit! Let me tell you, if you want something fun to do with your kids, THIS it it! 10 apples produced around 2 cups of juice.
I poured the raw apple juice, now called apple cider, in to a pot and added the sliced orange, cinnamon sticks, whole cloves and ground nutmeg.
I brought the mixture to a simmer over medium heat and took it right off the stove. I strained the cider (through a fine strainer) to separate the orange and spices. I poured a drink for myself then set the rest of the mulled apple cider aside for the chicken. If you are just looking for the perfect homemade apple cider, you’ve found it here!
Now on to the spatchcock chicken with braised vegetables! I placed the sweet potatoes, squash, onion and garlic in a large casserole dish and drizzled with 1 tablespoon of olive oil, salt and pepper. I poured 1 cup of the mulled apple cider over the vegetables, covered the dish with foil and braised in the oven at 400 degrees F for 30 minutes.
Then came the chicken. That intimidating chicken. I don’t get intimidated often by food, but the idea of spatchcocking a chicken actually got me nervous and excited. So I did what anyone would do…I found a video on YouTube of someone else spatchcocking a chicken and I watched it with my own raw chicken in front of me! I highly recommend watching this video!
I placed the whole chicken on a clean cutting board, breast side down. You’ll see in the above chicken that that it actually breast-side up but I flipped it before cutting! Starting at the thigh end, I cut along one side of the backbone with kitchen shears. I turned the chicken around and cut along the other side of the backbone. I saved the backbone to make my own chicken stock but you can just discard it if you want.
I spread open the chicken and found the keel bone, also known as the breast bone, right down the center. It looks like plastic so you can’t really miss it. Using a sharp knife, I made a small cut in the white cartilage that covered the top of the breastbone and bent both halves of the chicken backward at the cut to expose the breastbone. I ran my thumbs down both sides of the breastbone to separate it from the meat then pull the bone out . I wish I had more pictures for you of the process but the video will show you everything!
I flipped over the chicken and sprinkled it with the remaining tablespoon of olive oil, salt and pepper. At this point the vegetables were ready to come out of the oven so I uncovered the casserole dish and moved the head of garlic to the center of the dish. I realized that the garlic would roast really nicely right under the chicken and would add some seriously good flavor to the breast of the poultry. I placed the spatchcock chicken over the garlic and vegetables and put the dish back in the 400 degree F oven for 1 hour.
At the 45 minute mark, I opened the oven to check on the chicken, which was just starting to brown. I spooned the cider juice from the bottom of the casserole pan right over the chicken then let it cook for another 15 minutes. Check out that beautiful brown skin! The chicken was extremely moist from the apple cider steaming beneath it and the vegetables were perfectly braised and full of intense apple flavor. And this recipe is very versatile. You can use just the dark meat or white meat, add carrots, turnips, potatoes and more! And if you don’t have time to make your own apple cider, you can even use the store-bought variety.
Happy Thanksgiving everyone!