On the Grill: Spatch Cock Chicken with Potatoes & Rosemary


I recently made a visit to the Mission General Store in St. Ignatius, MT. It’s an Amish-run store specializing in bulk foods, closeouts, jams, and some oddities.

While perusing the aisles, you can run into random items like donut filling and somehow not be surprised when a few steps away, you can buy bulk fabric and fleece by the bolt. I was not shopping for filling or fabric, and really did not have a shopping list.

But what I did find was local, Amish-raised chickens, which were freshly frozen less than a week before my arrival. I have purchased Amish chickens before and had memorably wonderful times roasting them whole. This time, I decided to Spatch Cock – or butterfly – the chicken.

I started by rinsing the bird inside and out and discarded the giblets. First, I located the wishbone. Combining a sharp pairing knife and the use of my fingers, I was able to remove it without incident.

Then, I placed the bird on a cutting board,breast side down, and cut the ribs and back out with kitchen shears. This took a majority of the skeletal structure away from the bird and it spread open nicely. I cut around the keel bone or the V shaped bone that the breast meat adheres to and removed that as well, by sliding my fingers underneath to loosen until it became free.

I figured a brine would be a good way to add some flavor without fouling things up too much. I used salt, sugar, chilies, ginger, garlic, kaffir lime leaves, lemon (peels & juice), peppercorns, and fresh rosemary sprigs. The mixture was covered in boiling water so the salt and sugar would dissolve and the oils from the other aromatics could be released. After it steeped for a while, I cooled the solution down with ice and let the chicken bathe in the spices for about six hours.

I wanted to take advantage of the juices and flavors of the chicken, so I decided to prepare a bed of veggies for it to roast upon. I sliced up new potatoes, onion, broccoli spears, and coated them with olive oil, smoked paprika, salt, pepper, garlic and onion powder, Sriracha, and Worcestershire sauce to make a spicy paste. They all went into a cast iron-skillet and would adorn the chicken nicely.

The bird came out of the brine and I patted dry. I seasoned it with one of Dizzy Pig’s seasonings and placed it on top of the veggies in the skillet. My ceramic grill cooker had been hovering around 400 degrees when I got the chicken roasting. I added maple wood chips to bring a rich smoky flavor and color to the dish. About half way through, I flipped the bird and added more smoking chips. After about 90 minutes on the grill, the dish was complete.

To complement the chicken and veggies, I made some sourdough cheddar biscuits with fresh chives from the garden.

The chicken and veggies were rich in flavor and color. The potatoes absorbed so much of the chicken’s juices while cooking, they were like taste explosions and the maple smoke really added a nice contrast to the sweetness of the onions. My biscuits left a little to be desired, which is fine by me. It gives me an excuse to roast up another Amish chicken again real soon.

From Dictionary.com:

n. spatch•cock A dressed and split chicken for roasting or broiling on a spit.




Check out Paul’s other tasty summer grilling recipes, Grilled Shrimp & Veggies on Rosemary Skewers and Carne Asada Fajitas with Grilled Veggies, and stay tuned for more delicious grilling recipes all summer long!


Paul Sidoriak, grill masterPaul moved to Montana in 1996 with about a dozen friends from Lyndon State College in Vermont. He is still reluctantly paying his student loans and has carved out a career working as a supplier representative for various food and beverage products. Paul enjoys grilling after a day on the water or an afternoon in the garden where he has been known to grow heirloom tomatoes and peppers out of spite. Often cooking for extended family and friends, he takes a whimsical approach to cooking simple, seasonal dishes, while not taking it too seriously.

You can read more of Paul’s Grilling blogs at his blog site Montana Mise en Place.