Whole roast chickens are one of the most delicious and economical meats to cook, but many people find it intimidating to make one. I use a technique called “spatchcocking” to make the whole bird a little easier and faster to roast. 

Spatchcocking a bird means cutting out the backbone so the bird can lay flat in your oven or on your grill. This means all the skin is facing up, and becomes deliciously crisp, while the meat is evenly spread out, so it cooks faster than usual. Begin by heating the oven to 450. I’ll be using my traeger pellet grill. Turn the bird upside down, so you can see the backbone.

Take your kitchen scissors and cut up the right side of the backbone. The rib bones are thin and easy to cut through this way. 

Then, turn the chicken around and cut up the other side.

You can either discard the backbone or freeze it and make chicken stock with it later. Next, flip the bird breast side up and press firmly on the breastbone to crack it, so the bird lies flat.

Tuck the wings under, and you have a nice spatchcocked bird, flat and ready to cook!

Next, we season. My favorite seasoning is Spade L Ranch. They have chicken, pork, beef, and seafood varieties, and they are all great.

Stick your fingers under the skin over the breasts and loosen it.

Rub seasoning under and over the skin.

If you’re using the oven, place your chicken and a couple of sweet potatoes (I cook 1/2 sweet potato per person) on a wire rack set over a foil lined baking sheet, and stick it in the oven. Or place the chicken and potatoes on the grill grate.

Use an instant read kitchen thermometer to check the chicken after 45 minutes. The breast meat next to the bone should be 160 to 170 degrees. Once it reaches that temperature, pull it off to rest on a carving board for at least 20 minutes. Pull the sweet potatoes off after 1 hour 15 minutes cooking time. 

You want to let the chicken rest before carving, because of “carryover cooking.” After you remove meat from whatever heat source you were using to cook it, the internal temperature continues to rise for a while; the bigger the piece of meat, the longer this lasts.

As meat is heating up, the muscle fibers contract, squeezing juices out between them. If you cut into the meat while the temperature is still rising, the juices will all run out, and the meat will taste dry. If you wait until the carryover cooking stops, and the meat begins to cool, the muscle fibers relax and draw that moisture back inside. Then, when you carve it, the meat will be much juicier.

Meanwhile, snap the stems off a pound of green beans, wash them, and place them in a steamer basket over an inch of water. Bring the water to a boil, then cover, reduce the heat to medium low, and let the beans steam for 8 to 12 minutes, depending on if you like your beans crisp or softer.

Dinner is served!