Lagniappe: Sunday lunch?
Use it up, wear it out. . .
It’s an Old Maine adage that works just as well in frugal Tuscany where the bread is unsalted because it keeps longer and better that way, and can be used in a variety of ways that would just shrivel ordinary bread. “Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without,” we say in Maine, and I can hear my Tuscan neighbors admonishing in almost the same words.
But I’m not talking bread today—I’m talking chicken, especially the giant chickens that I buy in my local farmer’s market. The latest one weighed over five pounds and it was the smallest spatchcocked bird that the chicken lady had available.
Spatchcock? Which means?
I favor spatchcocked for roasting for several reasons. But first, let me explain briefly if you’re unfamiliar with the term. Sometimes called butterflied chicken, a spatchcocked bird (the term is 18th century English but originally Irish, according to the Oxford) has had its backbone removed so that it can be spread out, joined at the breast but with its two sides splayed out on a grill or in a roasting pan.
So why bother doing that? One big reason is that the bird can be cooked, roasted, or even grilled in the case of smaller birds, much more quickly and efficiently, with much more of the skin to get deliciously crispy. Roasting a whole five-pound bird can take an hour and a half, while roasting a spatchcock can get there in 40 to 50 minutes. Roasting a whole bird inevitably leaves some parts of the chicken, especially the skin parts tucked underneath the roast, even when fully cooked, still sort of flabby and, to my taste, unappetizing. A spatchcocked bird, on the other hand, has all its skin spread out in the dry heat of the oven to crisp almost to a crackle, perfect for those of us who love that crusty crunch.
I looked it up on etymonline.com and discovered that use of the term spatchcock had dropped off to a mere trickle throughout the 20th century, only to experience a steep rise after about 1990, when it began to soar to its present highest peak ever. Makes you wonder why. Makes you wonder what famous chef or food writer or television personality suddenly re-introduced spatchcocked chicken, long before Tiktok or Instagram, long before Facebook even, unimaginable as that may seem today.
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