Friday, March 20, 2015

Apéritif Friday - Paleo Brined Spatchcocked Chicken and Apricot Ginger Vodka Juice

Last Thanksgiving, a highly entertaining group text with four of my girlfriends ensued. It's how we coped with all manners of Turkey Day Drama: visiting mother-in-laws, failed ejector pits, husbands who split their pants while preparing the feast. To ease the pain, we all sipped cocktails before noon - quite possibly why Thanksgiving will always rule as the number one holiday in my book. It's when the world (or the United States, at least) pauses to drink, eat, and pass out. Or watch football, if that's what you're into.

We shared photos of our indulgences.
Mmmm. Aristocrat.
Mmmmm. Champagne.
Mmmmm. Rummy coffee drink by the fire pit. 
Whoops. One of these is not like the other.
I squealed in jealousy that my Mom was in charge of the bird and I couldn't go after it with some kitchen shears. Another friend had a different opinion. "That reminds me of something on American Horror Story: Freakshow."

Giggle giggle. She was right. This does look a bit...off. But the concept stayed with me. A flattened hunk of meat will surely roast more evenly and brown more nicely everywhere than it's rounded contemporary. Why, as a society, do we not flatten our poultry more often? Why do we instead stick cans of beer up the rear in the hopes of creating more even heat and effective roasting? Why not just butcher the back out of the darned thing, smash it flat and call it a day?

Let's all take a deep breath and collective sigh. Then say it with me. "SPATCHCOCK." What a fun word. I could say that all day long.

Spatchcock, Spatchcock, Spatchcock.

K. I'll stop now. But I'm still whispering it. And after we finally got around to trying it, the spatchcocked bird is now firmly rooted in the dinner rotation at Casa de Czupek. So much so that we've invited a neighbor and her daughter and any number of her umpteen canines over for dinner tonight for...you guessed it...

Paleo Brined Spatchcocked Chicken.

I've already got my bevvie picked out for tonight, too. I recently came across this gem at our local Mom and Pop produce store, Peter Rubi.
It looks even better next to a bottle o' Mr. Goose, in keeping with my poultry theme. I'm going to have to pace myself because the fizzy factor and slight amount of sugar in this herby fruit concoction will have me racing like Secretariat out of the gates, and I'd like to actually see 9:00 tonight.

Here's how we did it a few weeks ago when it was negative ridiculous degrees with my commentary on how to make things more efficient, so you can learn from my mistakes. You're welcome.

Paleo Brined Spatchcocked Chicken

2 Quarts very warm tap water
8 oz (weigh it!) Salt - I used Kosher
8 oz Honey
2 Cinnamon sticks
2 T Italian Herbs
30 peppercorns
4 Garlic cloves, crushed
1/2 cup dried cranberries
2 lemons, halved and juiced
2 Whole, Hormone Free Organic Chickens (if you can find them. If not, I won't tell)
Poultry Rub, or Montreal Steak Seasoning (a salt, pepper, garlic combo)

Combine the first 9 ingredients in a large stockpot, stirring to dissolve the salt and honey. No need to boil over a stovetop! Just make sure your water is hot enough to dissolve the salt and honey.
While the brine comes to room temperature, prepare the chickens. Place them on a cutting board breast side down, and with sharp kitchen shears cut up one side of the backbone...
...then the other...
...to remove it completely. Discard the backbone or save it for homemade stock.
Ignore the herbs. We brined first, then spatchcocked. Don't be inefficient like us.
Open the bird up like a book, flip it over and press down on the breastbone to flatten it. The breastbone may or may not break depending on the size of your bird. Breakage is fine and encouraged.

If you're brine is still hot, throw some ice cubes into it to lower the temperature. Place the spatchcocked chickens into the cooled brine. You'll notice that the bird in this picture is not flayed open yet. Again, don't be like us. Cutting the bird open first will allow room for two chickens in one pot of brine.
Place a lid on the pot and store the chickens in the refrigerator for 6-8 hours.

Remove the chickens from the brine and rinse them thoroughly in cool water, then pat them dry with paper towels. Schmear the chicken with butter or ghee, then liberally apply the rub.
Forget about the fact that our chicken is halved. Mr Musky got kitchen shear happy and snipped the golldarned thing in half after he cut the backbone out. Not necessary.

Place the chicken on a wire rack over an aluminum foil lined sheet tray. Roast it in a 350 degree oven until the thigh meat near (but not touching) the bone is at 165 degrees. Our chicken was small, so it took about 30-35 minutes. BUT USE A THERMOMETER! You want juicy chicken, right? The only way to achieve perfect doneness is to use a thermometer. I promise.

Remove the meat from the oven and let it rest for ten minutes so the juices can redistribute.
We served this simply with buttered green beans. The protein really is the star of the show. Tonight we are having a simply grilled vegetable and a salad as the sides. I can't wait to try this off the grill and will edit this post over the weekend with an update on how we grilled it.

Enjoy your Friday, friends. Raise your glasses to the work SPATCHCOCK!

XOXO,
Jen

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