Any fowl (but commonly small chicken) split open for quick grilling.
This term is known at least since Grose's Dictionary of 1785, and does not appear to be related to the dish of breaded eels called 'spitchcock', but is simply derived from a method of preparing a fowl for cooking with dispatch, ie. quickly. The term rather fell out of use in the late 19th Century at home, but was retained by the Anglo-Indians, to be re-introduced in the 1990's.
Original Receipt from 'Warnes every-day cookery : containing one thousand eight hundred and fifty-eight distinct receipts' (1872)
Spatchcock — English Fashion
Time, twelve minutes.
681. One fowl ; three ounces of butter ; a piece of puff paste.
Make about a pound or half a pound as required, of good puff paste. Roll it out about the thickness of two fingers. Cut the edge in Vandykes. Rub together the pieces of paste left ; cut them into the shape of crescent moons ; wet one of the corners of each and the side of the vandyked paste, and stick crescents between each vandyke. Bake this crust a delicate golden colour. Cut up a freshly-killed fowl in joints, pepper and salt them and rub with butter ; broil them, then pile them on the crust.
Spatchcock. — Indian Mode and Sea Fashion,
Time, half an hour.
682. One fowl ; pepper and salt ; two or three ounces of butter.
A fowl freshly killed, picked, and prepared. Split the fowl in halves through the middle of the breast and back ; pepper and salt it ; rub it over with butter ; grease a gridiron, and broil it over a bright clear fire. Put a lump of fresh butter in a hot dish before the fire ; let it dissolve ; lay the fowl on it (or on a round of toasted bread), and serve very hot.
A USA author has suggested that a spatchcock'ed turkey can cook through in only 40 minutes.
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