Food & Drink

MAD HUNGRY FAMILY’s Flat Citrus Chicken

Flat roasting, also known as spatchcocking, is when a whole chicken has its backbone removed so that it can lie flat while cooking, giving you a roast chicken in about half the time it takes for a whole bird to cook. Finally (what took us so long?!), my husband discovered that you don’t need to remove the whole bone before cooking. Simply cut along one side of the backbone with kitchen shears, leaving it attached on the other side—you can still flatten the bird, and though it may not look as pretty, the remaining backbone becomes a coveted treat for folks who love crispy skin and crunchy bones.

flat citrus chicken

Flat Citrus Chicken

Print Recipe
Serves: 4


  • One 3-pound chicken, at room temperature
  • 1 lemon or lime, thinly sliced and each slice quartered
  • 1 orange or tangerine, thinly sliced and each slice quartered
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • ⅓ cup pitted green or black olives, halved
  • ⅓ cup currants or raisins
  • 4 to 6 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
  • ¾ cup chicken broth



Using kitchen shears, cut along one side of the backbone. Place the bird skin side up, and press down firmly to slightly flatten. Using your fingers, carefully separate the skin from the flesh (keeping it attached) where possible, taking care not to tear the skin. Slide some citrus pieces underneath the skin. (Use a chopstick or similar tool to shove the citrus into the legs and thighs.) Pat the chicken dry all over with paper towels. Season with salt and pepper generously on both sides.


Preheat the oven to 425ºF. Heat a large, oven-safe skillet (such as a shallow, enameled cast-iron brazier) over high heat. Add the oil and 1 tablespoon of the butter and heat until the butter melts (it should bubble but not burn). Immediately add the chicken, skin side down. Cook without moving it, for 3 minutes. Turn the chicken over, taking care not to break the skin. Scatter the olives, currants, garlic, and any remaining citrus pieces around the chicken. Pour in the broth.


Transfer the skillet to the oven. The chicken is done when it is golden brown and cooked through, 40 to 45 minutes. An instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part and not touching bone should read 165ºF. Transfer the chicken to a cutting board to rest for 10 minutes. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon butter to the pan drippings and swirl around to make a sauce.


Cut the chicken into pieces and serve with the pan sauce drizzled over top.

Excerpted from Lucinda Scala Quinn’s Mad Hungry Family (Artisan, 2016)

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