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A New Weeknight Favorite: Roasted Spatchcock Chicken with Harissa, Herb Yogurt, and Citrus

Spatchcock chicken roasts in a spicy harissa yogurt marinade. Serve it alongside potatoes for an elegant, flavorful dinner party or date night meal.

Karishma is the founder of Home Cooking Collective (HCC) as well as a freelance food writer, recipe developer, and photographer.

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Roast chicken is both a crowd-pleaser and a comforting classic. But it can be a little fussy too because ensuring every part of the bird cooks as evenly as possible is a challenging endeavor. Luckily, since discovering “spatchcocking,” a simple technique for removing the backbone before roasting chicken, I no longer worry about dry, unevenly cooked pieces of meat. As a bonus, the cooking time for roasting a chicken with this technique is significantly shorter than a traditional roast.

This dish features spatchcock chicken marinated in herby yogurt, harissa, and spices, then roasted with citrus and potatoes. The yogurt helps tenderize the chicken, and the harissa and herbs provide the flavor.

As the chicken roasts, its juices coat the potatoes, while the citrus brightens the whole meal. And who doesn’t like chicken and potatoes? For the finishing touches, the herb yogurt comes in once again as a dipping sauce for the chicken. I highly recommend trying out this flavorful spatchcock chicken roast for a date night or dinner party gathering.

Key Ingredients in Roasted Spatchcock Chicken

A few special ingredients are important in this dish, balancing spicy, bright, and acidic notes. The recipe itself is somewhat flexible, so you can adapt the ingredients as needed to maintain the same flavor profile.

Harissa paste: Harissa is a spicy paste originating in North Africa, typically made with chili peppers, garlic, oil, spices, and herbs. There are many regional variations, and each brand has a distinct flavor profile. Harissa is often used as a condiment, marinade, or base for a stew. Some harissa pastes pack a punch, so I recommend adding a little at a time as you taste the marinade to ensure it is well balanced. For a milder flavor, purchase a mild harissa paste (or use less). This recipe also works with many chili pastes, like gochujang or sambal.

Herb yogurt: I recommend using full-fat Greek yogurt (I love Wallaby) for its thicker texture and tart flavor. Cilantro provides a warm, citrusy touch, but any combination of soft herbs will do!

Citrus : I love the combination of citrus with spice. The lemons and oranges are sliced into rounds and baked with the chicken. Feel free to use a variety of oranges and lemons, just oranges, or just lemons.

How to Spatchcock a Chicken

Spatchcocking is a method that involves removing the backbone from a piece of meat, allowing you to open up the bird and lay flat on a surface. The benefit here is that you get a flatter surface where all of the skin is fully exposed, which means a faster, crisper, and a more even roast. In addition to spatchcock chicken, you can also spatchcock a whole turkey.

Using kitchen shears, remove the chicken’s backbone by placing the bird breast-side down and making two cuts on either side of the backbone.

Turn the bird over and press down with your hands to flatten the chicken.

Pick up the legs, pulling them away to separate them from the breast. From there, the chicken is ready to bake.

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