Pumpkin Butter Spatchcock Chicken
I feel like I can finally breathe because it’s now October, which means it’s officially socially acceptable to cook with pumpkin all the time in my plaid flannel…with my pumpkin spice latte and apple pie candle burning. I also don’t have to turn on my AC all the time to pretend its cold out. I digress… let’s talk about this chicken.
It’s a spatchcock chicken (yes, spatch – cock – get the giggles out now!!!) which means we are flattening it out so its splooted on a sheet pan, which ultimately yields a faster cook time with the same juicy meaty results! Last year, I did a tutorial on how to roast a chicken the traditional way (linking here, pardon my horrifying instructional voiceover) but I’m gonna be honest with you: I love spatchcocking my chicken way more than I like the traditional preparation. I also think it looks so rustic and gorgeous splayed out with some root veggies. You *can* do this with a turkey, but I haven’t done that yet so I don’t want to advise you on that big Thanksgiving decision.
So our chicken is flattened out on a sheet pan — cool — but what about this pumpkin butter situation? Is this going to be pumpkin overload, because.. ew? I’m so glad you asked! When I typically roast a chicken, I love to put a mixture of herbs and butter underneath the skin to yield ultimate crispiness and flavor. With this special pumpkin chicken, I decided to make a pumpkin compound butter to put under the skin, which is essentially a mix of plain pumpkin puree, butter, rosemary, garlic and spices. It has a warm, nutty pumpkin essence to it, but the garlic and rosemary also mellow it out to give herbal, savory vibes so that it’s not too squash-y. If you served this to someone who doesn’t like pumpkin flavored foods, but they don’t mind eating squash, they would like this. If you served this to someone who hates pumpkin everything and hates squash (like my husband Sebastian,) they also still would probably like this. I’m only saying that because Sebastian liked it, so I’m not sure if that’s enough evidence to convince you and your pumpkin hating friend(s.) The pumpkin butter gives it an aromatic, spicy and nutty depth of flavor. That’s essentially all you have to know.
I obviously love the flavors of this dish, but one of my favorite things about it is how easy it is to make. I’ve made spatchcock chicken for our family a handful of times because it’s literally the easiest thing ever. It’s October — I’m already being basic, just let me say literally as many times as I literally want. Xx. Pumpkin spice.
Now that we know the flavors, let’s talk about preparing the chicken. I’m talking about before we even get to spatchcocking (which I show in photos below.) To brine or not to brine? That’s is the question. And the answer is really up to you. I’m lazy and brining is sometimes really a hassle. If you’re going to brine or if you want to brine, I would recommend trying out a dry brine. It’s a like halfway less annoying than a wet brine (who really owns a tub that would fit an entire chicken submerged in water!?), and essentially consists of rubbing the chicken in salt and letting it sit before cooking. Bon Appetit wrote a great article on how to dry brine, so check this out if you want to brine and do this 24 hours before. I will say, I’ve made this without brining the chicken and it was still great. Here’s my thought process: if you’re making this for everyday, you can totally skip the brine. If you’re making it for a special occasion, do the brine.
Pumpkin Butter Spatchcock Chicken
- 2.5-4.5 lb whole chicken set out for 1 hour before roasting to come to room temperature
- Olive oil
- Thick cut potatoes and root vegetables of your choice
Pumpkin Compound Butter
- 6 tbsp unsalted butter softened at room temperature
- 6 tbsp pumpkin purée unseasoned
- 3 cloves garlic minced (if your cloves are really large, go with 2 cloves)
- 1 1/2 tbsp finely chopped fresh rosemary
- 1/2 tsp nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp kosher salt if you'd like to add more, feel free to go with 1/2 tsp!
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 hour before roasting, take the chicken out of the fridge and let it sit at room temperature. This helps it cook more evenly!
- In a small bowl, combine all of the pumpkin butter ingredients. If you want to make the consistency extra creamy, feel free to throw it all in a blender.
- Place the chicken flat on a cutting board and dry it off with a paper towel. Flip it over so the breasts are touching the board and the wings are closest to you.
- Using kitchen shears, cut down on one side of the spine.
- Then, cut down on the other side of the spine. Remove the spine and open the rib cage to remove any random giblets that might be left. You can keep the spine for making a chicken stock later on!
- Flip the chicken over and firmly press down on the center to flatten it.
- Once the chicken is flattened, take a rubber spatula (or your hand) and gently separate the skin from the meat, all over the chicken in the breast, thigh and drumstick areas. Be careful as to not rip the skin!
- With your spatula or hand (feel free to wear gloves if raw meat skeeves you out) rub as much pumpkin butter under the skin as possible. I used all of the butter in the recipe for a 4.25 lb chicken.
- Drizzle olive oil on the outside of the chicken and rub it into the skin. Sprinkle more salt and pepper all over the chicken as well.
- Place the chicken onto a sheet pan with chopped root vegetables of your choice. Roast at 425 degrees for 45 minutes, or until the deepest part of the breast is 160 degrees internally. If you are cooking a smaller 2 lb chicken, check on it at 30 minutes and take the internal temp.
- Let the chicken rest for 15 minutes and check that the internal temp has risen to at least 165 degrees. Carve and serve! Store leftovers in a zip lock bag for up to 3 days in the fridge.