There’s a distinct vibe in the house every time the family busts out the turbo broiler to roast a chicken. Once the fat begins to render, a savory, citrusy smell fills the kitchen. Heads turn when the timer goes off every 15 or so minutes, letting you know it’s time to turn the chicken over. When it’s finally done, you take it out and let it rest. It sits in the middle of the table, glistening dark brown, juices leaking and gathering on the plate—and by then, the smell has you so delirious that you’re knocking over your family members to sit around the table, ready to dig in.
In most Filipino households, roast chicken is a show-stopping centerpiece on the dinner table, reserved for special occasions like Christmas, birthdays, or when you have guests over. But it’s actually very simple to make. All the hard work is in prepping the chicken and letting it soak in the marinade for a couple of hours—so if you have time to spare, don’t wait for a special occasion to treat yourself to this classic dish.
If you don’t own an oven with a rotisserie function, it can be a pain to have to periodically turn your chicken over to make sure it’s cooking evenly on all sides. It’s especially difficult if you’re working with a big bird. More importantly, when you leave the chicken whole, you run the risk of drying out the breast meat, since it cooks much faster than the leg meat. Our solution to this is spatchcocking.
Spatchocking (or butterflying) is a technique often used for cooking whole birds, where the spine is removed so all the flesh can be pressed flat. Laying the bird out will help it cook more evenly, and will also reduce cooking time.
It may take a few extra minutes to get your kitchen shears out and prep the bird, but the payoff is definitely worth it. You can skip the fuss of moving the chicken around to make sure it’s cooking on all sides, and you get a tender, moist, perfectly cooked chicken. No dry breasts here!