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Roast chicken with balsamic cabbage… and how to spatchcock

Roasted chicken is one of those recipes that you think will take a really long time. And yes, sometimes it can take upwards of an hour. But, my time-saving trick is spatchcocking. Say, what now?

 How to  Spatchcock a Chicken

Also known as “butterflying,” to spatchcock a chicken means to remove the spine in order for the chicken to lie flat. The reason this is done is to dramatically reduce the cooking time and ensure even-cooking. You do have to get your hands dirty to do this properly, but it’s kind of fun!
1.  Flip the chicken over onto its breast side and with a pair of sharp kitchen shears cut the backbone out, cutting along each side (you will have to cut through some thin rib bones but if your shears are sharp enough you should be fine). You can also do this step with a sharp knife, just be extra careful of your fingers.
2.  While keeping the bird still on its breast, press down lightly to open it up. You have the option here of either leaving it like this, or removing the ribs and breastbone. Removing the breastbone is a little more difficult, and I would recommend using a knife you feel safe maneuvering. 

Voila! You have safely spatchcocked a chicken.

What do I do with the backbone? Good question! You are welcome to freeze it and then use it for a future recipe, like chicken stock. It is actually one of the best cuts for stock because it has very little meat but lots of flavour.

Once that step is done, your roasted chicken is going to be perfectly succulent in no time! This recipe is from Chef Michael Smith’s latest cookbook, Fast Flavours.

Imagine a freshly roasted chicken leg seasoned with delicious thyme and salt and pepper. Now imagine that chicken leg sitting atop of a beautiful bed of finely sliced purple cabbage based in balsamic vinegar to render the cabbage slightly tart and sweet and oh-so-yummy.

Am I the only one drooling right now?
This recipe guarantees you a deliciously tender and moist bird. Seriously. Oh, and you know what is even better? Cooking your cabbage in the chicken juices. YUM. Read on for the recipe!

Thyme roasted whole chicken à la Michael Smith 

From his latest cookbook, Fast Flavours with balsamic roasted cabbage


(for the chicken)

– one whole roasting chicken, spatchcocked
– a generous splash of canola oil
– 3 tablespoons of thyme, herbes de Provence, or tarragon
– salt and pepper to taste (optional)

(for the cabbage)

– half of one medium red cabbage, sliced thinly
– 1 medium-sized yellow onion, sliced thinly
– 1 tbsp of canola oil
– 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
– salt and pepper to taste


1. Toss together your ingredients for the red cabbage, and place it in a very large roasted pan. Set aside for now.
2. Preheat the oven and another large roasting pan at 450C. Use your convection setting if you have one; otherwise use your stovetop fan because it may get a bit smoky
2. Skin side up, rub the chicken with the oil and then sprinkle on your spices
3. Place the chicken skin side up onto your roasting pan (it is hot! It will sizzle when they touch)
4. Roast the chicken for about 45 minutes, or until the thickest part reads 165F (73C) or when it is no longer pink inside. Add the cabbage roasting pan in for the last 30 minutes.
5. Allow the chicken to rest for a few minutes before carving. Serve alongside the cabbage for a delicious weeknight dinner!
Note: if you want to save a step, or have fewer dishes, feel free to skip the searing step with the chicken and place both the cabbage and chicken in the same roasting pan.