This month many of us are figuring out how to celebrate in small gatherings. We want to provide cheer without too much fuss. A festive holiday meal should feature a main dish that impresses. Spatchcocked Grilled Chicken fits that bill to a “T” as we say.
I’m hosting Progressive Eats this month. My theme is Celebrating Suffrage, in honor of my book, All Stirred Up: Suffrage Cookbooks, Food, and the Battle for Women’s Right to Vote. A few months ago, my book launch post featured the Suffrage Cookbook brownies. This time, I’m opting for a savory treat. Spatchcocked grilled chicken is simple, yet tasty. If you don’t have a grill handy, you can bake or roast the chicken.
The recipe (below) gives the details. But to whet your appetite, here’s a video featuring my beloved, who is an expert at spatchcocking (don’t go running for the dictionary – I made that word up) and grilling.
Women’s Suffrage – More Fascinating Than You Might Guess
All Stirred Up is filled with history of the suffrage movement, recipes from the suffrage cookbooks, explanations for how the suffragists’ interest in food fit into the then-popular home economics movement – and perhaps most interesting of all, a timeline.
The timeline shows what else was happening in the U.S. and the world, as well as in food, during the suffrage battle.
- Did you know that Oreos pre-date women’s right to vote? (Nabisco sold the first Oreo in 1912, and the U.S. constitution did not include the 19th Amendment guaranteeing women the right to vote until 1920.)
- Do you know which was the first country to enact women’s suffrage and when that happened? It was New Zealand in 1893, more than two decades before U.S. women won our suffrage battle.
- And how about what two companies began in 1903, the year that the Wright brothers flew at Kitty Hawk? Hint – These two companies changed how Americans ate and moved around. The companies are the the food business that became Kraft Foods and the Ford Motor Company.
In All Stirred Up you can find out many more facts like these, what was going on around the suffragists as they battled, and how the suffragists and women’s suffrage changed the world .
The original recipe is called “To Broil Chickens” and it comes from The Woman Suffrage Cookbook, published by Hattie A. Burr of Boston in 1886. The recipe author was Mary A. Livermore (1820-1905.) A social reformer, writer, and public lecturer, Livermore worked for a number of causes, including abolitionism, temperance, suffrage, and aiding poor and working class women. She founded a number of organizations and headed several, including the Illinois Woman Suffrage Association. For two years, she was also the editor of the national Woman’s Journal, a suffragist weekly founded by Lucy Stone and her husband Henry Blackwell.
To Broil Chickens.
Cut the chickens open on the back, place them on the meat-board and pound until they will lie flat on the gridiron, then broil them over hot coals for twenty minutes or more, until they are a nice brown; turn them frequently, and do not burn them. Put the liver, heart and gizzard in a stewpan, add a pint of water for each chicken and boil until they are tender and can be chopped very fine. Then to this add butter, pepper, salt, and a little flour for thickening, with a cup of sweet cream if you have it. When the chickens are done, dip them while hot in this gravy, put them back on the gridiron over the coals for a minute, taking care that they do not burn; then place all in the gravy, allowing it to boil up once, and sent to the table hot.
Mary A. Livermore
Welcome to Progressive Eats, our virtual version of a Progressive Dinner Party. This month’s theme is a celebration of women’s suffrage, and our host is Laura who blogs at Mother Would Know.
If you’re unfamiliar with the concept, a progressive dinner involves going from house to house, enjoying a different course at each location. With Progressive Eats it’s a virtual party. The host for the month chooses the theme and members share recipes on that theme suitable for a delicious meal or party. Then you can hop from blog to blog to check them out. So come along and see all of the delicious and inspired dishes!
- Sparkling Fruit Punch Cocktail – Creative Culinary
- To Broil Chickens (Spatchcocked & Grilled Chicken) – Mother Would Know (you’re here!)
- Chicken Pot Pie – The Redhead Baker
- Ginger Bread – The Heritage Cook
In this recipe, you butterfly the chicken before grilling it. The result is scrumptious with crisp skin, moist meat and an elegant presentation.
- 4-4.5 pound whole chicken (including giblets - heart, liver, neck) 1.8-2 kg
- Kosher or sea salt, to taste
- Freshly ground pepper, to taste
- 1 teaspoon dried herbs (or 1 tablespoon fresh herbs or 1 stalk fresh rosemary) Optional - recommended if not making gravy
- Giblets from the chicken
- 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary or 1 stalk fresh rosemary
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- Kosher or sea salt, to taste
- Freshly ground pepper, to taste
- 1/4 cup heavy cream, heated - optional
Prepare the grill.
Remove the giblets from the inside of the chicken. Place the chicken legs down (breast side facing up) on a cutting board. Cut along one side of the backbone, starting at the tail end and going up to the neck. Then cut the other side of the backbone, and remove it. Flip the chicken over, so the cut side is facing down. With the palm of your hand, press the breast down, flattening the chicken. Sprinkle kosher or sea salt and freshly ground pepper on the chicken. If you are not making the gravy, sprinkle on a teaspoon dry or fresh herbs of your choice. Insert two long metal skewers into the chicken cross-wise, underneath the legs, from one side of the breast to the other, about evenly spaced.
Place the chicken on the hot grill. Close the lid and leave the vent open. Cook the chicken for approximately 60 - 70 minutes, turning it over about halfway through. The chicken is ready when its juices run clear. If you have an instant read thermometer, that gives the most accurate measure of whether the meat is fully cooked. The internal temperature should be 165° F/74° C on an instant read thermometer stuck into the meat and not touching the bone.
After the chicken is done, let it rest for a few minutes before carving.
Optional - Gravy - (While the chicken is cooking prepare the gravy. )
Simmer the giblets and backbone in 2 cups (16 oz./473 ml) of water with the rosemary for approximately 30-40 minutes. This creates a small amount of chicken stock that will be the base for the gravy.
In a small separate pan, melt the butter, add the flour and cook the flour for about 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add a ladleful of the simmering stock into the butter and flour, then a bit more, until you have about ½ - ¾ cup (118-177 ml) of liquid in the mixture and it begins to thicken.
Throw out the giblets and backbone and add the flour/butter/stock to the rest of remaining stock. Add salt and pepper to taste. (Start with just a little and add only after tasting.) If you like a richer gravy, stir in the cream. Put a ladleful of the gravy in a small bowl and brush it onto the chicken during the last few minutes of cooking. Serve the rest of the gravy on the side.
These days we would call this recipe spatchcocked and grilled chicken. (The spatchcocking technique, basically cutting a chicken down the back then flattening or butterflying it, can also be used for roasting chicken in the oven.)
Although I have provided the directions for the gravy specified in the original recipe, the chicken is quite flavorful on its own.