Dietsch here again. The lady of the house tells me that my Roast Chicken, Three Ways post is pretty popular around here. Y’all seem to love the bird, and the post sparked a lot of discussion of ways to cut up and roast the bird. Now, I have something new to share, but before I move on, let me reiterate the three methods we confabbed about:

  1. Spatchcocking. Also known as butterflying, this method involves removing the backbone, opening the chicken like a book, and flattening the bird. This method is good for both grilling and roasting, as it takes less time than doing a whole bird, but the disadvantage is, you lose the yummy, yummy chicken butt and the succulent morsels that cling to the backbone.
  2. Keller. The Keller method involves leaving the chicken whole but raining down salt all over it and roasting at high heat. You retain the backbone and chicken butt and get the skin really crispy. Delicious.
  3. Zuni. Oh, I raised some hackles here. Har har har! The Zuni method, developed by Zuni Cafe’s chef, Judy Rodgers, has the cook salting the bird days in advance and then roasting at high heat. The skin gets very dry as a result of the salting and partisans of this method claim it produces the crispiest skin around. I demurred, saying it wasn’t much crispier than Keller’s method, but the Zuni method had the disadvantage of smoking the hell out of the house.

But now, something new. This isn’t a difference in roasting the bird, though; it’s a difference in prep. Some of you have already seen hints of this in Jen’s Weekend Eats post. It’s this funky looking bird:

"Leaping Frog" chicken

“Yo, Dietsch! What’s up with that?,” you may be wondering. Hey, that’s what I’m here to tell you.

This method is called the Leaping Frog Chicken, which culinary historian Maricel Presilla discovered in Argentina, and it’s featured in the June issue of Gourmet magazine. Dubbed “Leaping Frog” because it resembles one, this method for flattening a bird is worth adding to your ol’ repper-twar. You can get the full scoop at Gourmet, and there’s also a yummy sounding marinade recipe you might want to try. I’ll give you a brief rundown of it, though. Just be sure to give Gourmet some clicky love and get the full technique there.

(I’ll just tell you here that we haven’t tried the marinade yet. We both enjoy a basic chicken with nothing but salt added, and that’s the way I wanted to grill the first “Leaping Frog” bird I prepped, but we’ll probably try this marinade for version 2.)

Anyway, here’s a thumbnail of the method:

  1. With a knife, slice through the skin between the body of the bird and the drumstick. Loosen the thigh joint from the socket and leave the leg attached. Repeat on the other side.
  2. With shears, cut through the ribs up to the shoulder joint, but leave the shoulder intact. Do not cut through the shoulder. You want a bird that’s cut basically in half but attached at the shoulder.
  3. Open up the bird and place it skin-up on your work surface.
  4. Push down hard on the breastbone to break it and flatten the bird.
  5. Actually, there is no step 5.

Here’s what it should look like when finished:

What you get here is the best of all possible worlds. The chicken is flat, so it grills or roasts more quickly than an intact bird. But you waste nothing. You don’t lose the backbone or the oysters as you do with spatchcocking. I love chicken stock as well as the rest of you, but I’d buy a bag of necks for the stockpot rather than throw all my backbones in there.

[Jen's got a Flickr set up of this bird, if you want to see more.]

Maricel Presilla’s so my new hero.

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