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Butterflied "Spatchcocked" Chile-Lime Rubbed Chicken

Posted by mmillet on June 25, 2013


Some of you probably read that and thought, "Spa-what?". Spatchcocked is a cool way of saying what is now more commonly known as "butterflied" chicken. In a matter of minutes you remove the backbone so that the bird lies flat on the grill, allowing the whole chicken to cook quicker and make for a pretty sweet presentation too.

This method of cooking the whole bird is particularly popular in Southern California, where patrons happily gobble up chile-lime butterflied chicken. We put a juicy Traeger spin on this spicy recipe for butterflied chicken. The rub is exploding with South American flavors and spices that would also be a great addition to the Chicken Challenge.


PREP TIME: 10 minutes plus 12 to 24 hours marinating
COOK TIME: 40 to 50 minutes
SERVES: 4 to 6
RECOMMENDED PELLETS: Hickory, Mesquite or Oak

3 tablespoons chile powder, preferably New Mexico chile, or Hungarian paprika
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons freshly grated lime zest
3 tablespoons lime juice
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano, preferably Mexican
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
Pinch of ground cinnamon
1 3 1/2-to 4-pound chicken
Cilantro, lime juice or salsa for serving (optional)

Let's start by butterflying the chicken. Put the whole chicken on the cutting board so that it is breast-side down.

Using sturdy kitchen shears, cut down one side of the backbone (through the ribs).

Make an identical cut on the opposite side to remove the backbone completely; discard (or reserve it for stock).

Combine chile powder (or paprika) and oil in a small bowl with lime zest and juice, garlic, coriander, cumin, oregano, salt, pepper and cinnamon to form a wet paste. Place the chicken cut-side down and flatten with the heel of your hand to break the breastbone. (If you want the bird to lie completely flat, you can also remove the keel bone but it isn't mandatory.)


Generously smear the spice rub under and over the skin and on the interior of the bird. Place in a nonreactive baking dish. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight or up to 24 hours.

When ready to cook start the Traeger on Smoke with the lid open until fire is established (4 to 5 minutes). Preheat grill to 400 degrees F with the lid closed for 10 to 15 minutes.

Place the butterflied chicken breastbone-side down on the grill grate and cook for 40 to 50 minutes or until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part  without touching bone registers 165°F.


Transfer to a platter and let rest for 5 to 10 minutes before carving. Garnish with some cilantro and a squeeze of lime juice.