Saturday, November 12, 2011

Engagement Chicken

Changes do keep happening on the personal side of things - Roscoe is back to pre-snake status. Except for a small scar on his paw, he's as good as new and enjoying the fall along with all the crunchy leaves!

I'm VERY happy to announce that Rafe and I are also now engaged! He proposed one night after dinner, and I've been in a bit of a joyous fog ever since. I can't stop looking at my finger and being amazed that I get to marry my best friend.

In the days following our engagement I started planning all of the meals for the week. We had just gotten engaged, and air chilled whole chickens were on sale at Whole foods.....I figured, I should make engagement chicken! 

I realize that my idea was a bit backward, since the lore of this dish is that a woman makes this chicken for a fella of her choosing, and he is so amazed with her cooking prowess that he proposes marriage immediately. I felt a bit guilty that Rafe had never enjoyed this delicious meal...until I looked at the recipe.... It was so similar to my standard roast chicken I decided to scrap it and try something new.

Instead, since the weather was so beautiful, I decided to spatchcock and grill my chicken.

What is spatchcock you ask? its a fancy name that means 'butterfly'. You just cut out the backbone of the chicken, then lay the chicken out flat. I usually put my weight into it to flatten the breastbone. With a butchering process that is a bit, well, gruesome, its just better to say 'spatchcock' to lighten the mood of the whole thing. And its fun to say.

After the backbone was removed (put it in a zip-top bag and store it in the freezer - it will make great stock) I put the chicken in my giant food-grade plastic bucket. This item is not a 1 trick pony in my kitchen - I also use it to proof doughs...but if you don't have one, there are some brining bags that you can purchase at many grocery stores.

I made a quick brine by combining the following:

3/4 cup coarse kosher salt
1/4 cup honey cup  
1 cup boiling water 
1 gallon cold water 
1 tablespoon black peppercorns

zest of 1 lemon

I poured the mixture over the chicken and refrigerated it for about 6 hours in my giant bucket. When we were ready to prepare dinner and Rafe started the coals on the grill, I drained the bird, patted it dry with paper towels, rubbed it with a little olive oil and seasoned it with some more pepper (no salt necessary), paprika, and a bit of thyme.

A bit of time on the grill and we had a delicious dinner.

The beauty of the gruesome butchery is that your bird cooks much more quickly, and evenly. Because the chicken is approximately the same thickness once the backbone is removed, everything finishes cooking at the same time - rather than your breast meat drying out while the dark meat finishes.


  1. It is a bit backwards but I love that you made the engagement chicken! Congratulations (again) to you and Rafe...and can't wait to see you soon! xo

  2. I'm kind of fascinated by spatchcocking. Will have to try sometime! and belated congrats on the engagement :)

  3. Congrats again! How long does the chicken actually grill for? I'd love to try out this method!

  4. First of all....CONGRATS!!! Very exciting news!!

    Second of all, that chicken looks unbelievable! I can't believe Rafe didn't propose sooner if you make chickens like that :)

  5. So happy for your engagement!! Can't wait to celebrate on Sunday. the chicken looks awesome.

  6. So exciting! Congrats!! I'm sure Rafe doesn't mind the backwards making of hte chicken haha. You will have SO much fun planning the wedding!!!