Spatchcocked Saffron Chicken

Photo: Bobbi Lin

Spatchcocking might be the easiest and quickest way to cook a whole chicken. The technique is reminiscent of an Omani practice that uses smooth riverbed stones placed over the embers of a fire to grill meat.


  • 1 whole chicken (about 4 pounds)

  • 3 tablespoons fresh mint, finely chopped

  • 3 tablespoons fresh cilantro, finely chopped

  • 6 tablespoons ghee

  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt

  • ¾ teaspoon saffron threads

  • Safflower oil, for grill


  1. To spatchcock a chicken, cut along each side of the backbone with shears. Remove the backbone and reserve it for stock (it can be frozen up to 3 months). Turn chicken breast-side up; flatten it with your palm.

  2. In a small bowl, combine mint, cilantro, 3 tablespoons ghee, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon saffron. Carefully loosen skin from breasts and thighs with your fingers and rub ghee mixture under skin. Place chicken on a plate, cover, and refrigerate at least 1 hour.

  3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and heat a grill or grill pan over medium-high. Brush grill with oil to prevent sticking. Rub chicken with remaining 3 tablespoons ghee and season with remaining 1 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon saffron. Reduce heat to medium.

  4. Grill the chicken, skin-side down, for 20 minutes. For more even cooking, the chicken can be weighted with a foil-covered brick, if desired. Flip chicken and transfer to a rimmed baking sheet and cook until a thermometer inserted into the thickest part, without touching the bone, registers 165 degrees, 20 to 25 minutes more.

  5. Transfer to a plate, cover, and let rest for at least 10 minutes before serving.

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