So, as it turns out, spatchcock is a verb.
Let me back up.
In last week’s post, I mentioned that a big, life-altering event had occurred. My very first issue of Southern Living had crossed the threshold of apartment K14, and I became a new woman. A true Southern lady.
But receiving the magazine was only part of the transition. In order to fully step into my destiny as a Southern woman, I’d actually have to turn the oven on and cook something—an idea that would normally terrify me. Or exhaust me at the very thought.
But holding my rite of passage in my hand, I felt brave and energized.
As I browsed through the list of recipes in the front of the magazine, I glossed over any that included words like “roulade,” “andouille,” and “court-bouillon.”
I was brave, not cocky. I didn’t want to attempt anything I couldn’t properly pronounce.
(I also skipped Fig Dutch Baby Pancake, because I didn’t think I could find any figs or Dutch children on such late notice.)
When I saw Garlicky Roasted Spatchcock Chicken, I thought, “Hey, I recognize most of those words! And I can say all of them! Here’s our winner!”
Now, as only an English major would, I would like to point out that the word “spatchcock” is used here as an adjective. This is important, because I assumed spatchcock was a spice or ingredient that would give the chicken a certain, well, spatchcockiness.
HOWEVER, I was wrong.
These were the first words I read when I turned to page 116 for the recipe:
“Removing a chicken’s backbone—a technique called spatchcocking (or butterflying)—ensures juicy meat and golden crisp skin in less time than roasting a whole bird.”
DOES IT, NOW? Well, isn’t that special?
So, you see, this brings me back to my initial point—spatchcock is a VERB.
Though I did consider the fact that it is 2016, and I could very well buy the chicken sans backbone, I decided that if I was going to this, I was going to play by SL’s rules.
Sunday evening, I unloaded all the groceries, opened the magazine to page 116, and GOT TO WORK.
(I’d tell you how many times I walked back and forth through Publix if I hadn’t lost count.)
(There was one guy working the produce section who, I’m sure, was looking at me with more than a little suspicion as I made my third trip through the vegetable aisle.)
First instruction: “Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.”
Okay, I can do that.
Look at me, cooking and being an adult. Alright, what’s next?
“For step-by-step instructions on how to spatchcock a chicken, turn to page 132.”
I do indeed need step-by-step instructions, Southern Living, thank you!
Flip, flip, flip. Page 132.
Here we go.
“Place a whole chicken breast-side down on a cutting board.”
It should be noted that, up until this moment, I hadn’t thought about the reality of touching the chicken barehanded.
Oh, gross. Gross! GROSS! I can feel its bones. No, no, no, no, NO! Aw, it looks so sad and scared, all curled up like that. I feel so bad! Am I crying? Maybe a touch. Elizabeth, get yourself together! It’s dead. You can’t kill it again. PLACE THE BIRD ON THE CUTTING BOARD.
“Starting at the thigh end, cut along one side of the backbone with kitchen shears. Repeat on the other side to remove the backbone.”
Okay, thigh end. I have the shears. Just need to cut. OH, NO! THAT BONE CRACK! GROSS.
Crack. Gross. Crack. Gross. Crack. Gross.
“Freeze and reserve for stock.”
For stock? I have to keep this thing? No, sir. I don’t think so.
Oh, no! Its heart is going to be inside. I can’t look! I’m going to cry again. I feel like such a monster right now. I DID NOT THINK THIS THROUGH.
Wait. Why is there a bag in here? Why would you pull the insides out, stick them in a bag, and PUT THEM BACK INSIDE? Who did this? That is so dumb. I’m not putting that in a stock either. No, thank you.
“Flip the chicken over so that it’s cut-side down. Then firmly press on the breastbone to flatten it.”
Flatten it. Well it looks pretty flat already. I think this is as good as it’s going to get. Back to page 116.
Flip, flip, flip. Page 116.
Alright, where were we?
“Using the heel of your hand, press firmly against breastbone until it cracks.”
No, no. Page 132 mentioned only flattening, NO CRACKING. Ugh, okay. I’ll do it. If SL says so, I’ll do it. Until it cracks.
Okay. Okay! OKAY. Hard part’s over. I can do this.
And I did.
I knew I was okay when I shot the headless hen a double finger gun and said, “Looking good.” When you start talking to your poultry, you know you’ve moved away from being emotionally invested in its past life on the farm.
The grand finale was indeed pretty grand. It looked similar to the picture in the magazine and tasted delicious.
I told you this magazine would be a turning point for me. See for yourself.
BONUS: voicemails I left my mother during this whole process.
“Ugh, it just squeaks!”
“I should’ve started with mashed potatoes! Why didn’t I start with mash potatoes?! And my arm is sticky okay call me back thanks bye.”