Seasoned with thyme, sage, & blood orange zest, this whole roasted spatchcocked chicken is smothered in a sweet bourbon brown sugar glaze for a lovely holiday meal.
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Spatchcocked Chicken with Bourbon Brown Sugar Glaze
A whole roasted chicken is a beautiful centerpiece to any family holiday dinner. So easy to make, there is just something comforting in the presentation. Maybe it’s the traditional nature of it – so much of our media around the holidays shows whole roasts of ham, turkey, and chicken on the table. Or perhaps it’s the communal aspects – everyone coming together to share in the feast.
Outside the presentation, however, this succulent spatchcocked chicken is just plain delicious. The meat stays moist and flavorful, the skin crispy, and the tart orange zest and fresh thyme and sage add elements of holiday flavors to the whole dish. A brown sugar glaze enhanced with a bit of bourbon completes picture, and I can honestly say this is the best chicken I’ve ever made – and perhaps the best I’ve ever eaten.
Consider roasting up a whole spatchcocked chicken yourself this holiday season, or really any time of the year. You’ll be sure to impress with this relatively straightforward and simple recipe.
How to Spatchcock a Chicken
While turkeys are the traditional Thanksgiving and Christmas birds, I personally find a whole roasted chicken to be far more practical (and frankly much tastier) when serving a family dinner. At this point in my life, the idea of a huge dinner with all the extended family just isn’t the reality. I usually spend holidays with just my immediate family, and at least one doesn’t eat meat anyway. A chicken looks just as beautiful, takes a shorter time to cook, and creates less waste in a household that doesn’t have the time, energy, or inclination to use up pounds of leftover poultry.
I’ve often truss a whole chicken to roast in the oven, but after trying this recipe I am fully converted to the superiority of spatchcocking (also called butterflying) the chicken. Not only does the bird cook more evenly, I find it easier to carve and utilize as much meat as possible.
Preparing a spatchcocked chicken might sound intimidating, but it’s actually very easy. I found it took me less time than fully trussing a bird as I normally do.
- First, remove the neck and giblet from the chicken. You won’t need them for this recipe, so you can either discard them or save them for another use.
- Then, lay the bird breast-side down on a clean cutting board. Starting at the tail end, use kitchen shears to cut out the backbone. You can also use a sharp knife, but I find the shears make cutting through the ribs of the chicken very easy.
- Now, with the spine removed, flip the bird over and apply pressure to the breast bone until you hear a pop. This breaks the bone and allows you to flatten the bird out for even cooking.
- From there, season the chicken all over with dry rub and roast on a baking sheet. It’s so simple I will always use this technique from now on.
A Full Holiday Spread
A full holiday spread is more than just the main course. I’ve paired the dish here with some delicious Farro Stuffed Butternut Squash, but that’s not the only option. This holiday, I recommend some of the following recipes:
Spatchcocked Chicken with Bourbon Brown Sugar Glaze
- 4 pound whole chicken
- 2 ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 tablespoon fresh sage chopped
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves only
- Zest of 1 blood orange
Bourbon Brown Sugar Glaze
- ½ cup brown sugar
- ½ cup bourbon
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- Spatchcock the chicken by removing the backbone and flattening out the breast bone and ribcage (see note).
- Mix together the dry rub ingredients in a small bowl. Rub all over the whole chicken and let it rest. For best results, let it dry out in the fridge uncovered overnight, but in a pinch let it sit at room temperature for no more than half an hour.
- Heat the oven to 425 degrees F. Arrange the chicken on a foil-lined baking sheet and cook for 40-50 minutes (until an internal temperature of 145-150 degrees F). Let it rest on a cutting board for 10 minutes.
- As the chicken rests, make the Bourbon Brown Sugar Glaze. Melt the butter in a small pot over medium heat. Stir in the brown sugar, soy sauce, paprika, and bourbon. Cook until syrupy, about 10-15 minutes.
- Carve the chicken and serve with a drizzle of glaze on each plate.
How to Spatchcock a Chicken: Lay the bird breast-side down on a clean cutting board. Starting at the tail end, use kitchen shears (or a sharp knife) to cut out the backbone. Flip the bird over, flatten it out, and apply pressure to the breast bone until you hear a pop.
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