Guest Post: Cuisiner Par le Siège de Vos Pantalons! Spatchcock Chicken Salad

Spatchcock Chicken: Today I am handing over my kitchen tongs to a chef. A real chef. A working chef! His name is Jason, but you may know him as The Well Done Chef.

Now Jason is a dude with strong opinions. I admire that– and though he may be an actual chef, and though he may have a fancy French name for the method he wants to discuss today. I want you to know that I have a little non-chef secret of my own. What he calls Système Débrouillard, I have always called default. As in the default pasta that makes random appearances here on Sippity Sup.

As proud as I am of my default dishes, I am not sure this qualifies me for the title of chef. Because Jason takes the concept of default to an art.  Still, whatever fancy name this style of cooking goes by– I like to call it “cooking by the seat of your pants!”.  And just so you know, if I were indeed a chef I would call default cooking cuisiner par le siège de vos pantalons!

So please read on and welcome Jason as he proves what I have always known, Default Cooking (or should I say Système D?) is what the love of the kitchen is all about! GREG


rainy day in QuebecSpatchcock Chicken

Have you heard of the concept of Système Débrouillard, AKA Système D? Basically, it boils down to putting your dish out, no matter what.

Nature seems to conspire against me sometimes. I have been trying to put together a special Spatchcock Chicken just for Greg and my guest post here at Sippity Sup. For my troubles, I got the constant rain. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not afraid to barbecue in the rain, but for some reason, it just doesn’t fit in with today’s dish.

It may be drizzling, but there is more than one way to cook a chicken. So undeterred I spatchcock the chicken and fire it into a 350°F oven on a rack. While the chicken is working, let’s take a walk to my local farmer’s market to see what they have that is good for today and our Système D method of cooking. Because I am putting this dish out no matter what.

Wait! Why don’t I have everything together to start off you ask? (Well, there are no great ingredients in my refrigerator, I answer) So off we go to come up with something quick, or the missus will be mad, see!

Despite all my previous talks of Mise en Place on my own blog, today we are cooking what my old sous-chef used to refer to as the aforementioned System D Style!

On our way to the market, I feel there is a secret I need to tell you; some chefs claim that cooking is an art. Here is the truth– cooking and recipes are really just a guideline. Aa set of skills you use to put food on the table. There is an art to the craft– that is what I always say. But in the end, the ingredients speak for themselves, not the ego of the chef.

Let me prove it to you. Let’s go to the market and “find out” what our salad will be!

We arrive at the Fruiterie Saint Eustache, a famous farmer’s market in my hometown of Quebec, and I just walk up and down the aisle. Whatever catches my eye gets a quality check, and then goes into my basket. In my walkabout, I found:

  • A Haas avocado. Honestly, I can’t explain why I bought this, but it was perfectly supple, ripe, and smelled earthy. Perhaps I craved an avocado? We are cooking from the hip here, remember? System D Style!
  • A basket of Ontario peaches that cry when you touch them, their sweet ripeness mingled with a slightly acidic taste.
  • A pint of world-renowned Lac Saint-Jean blueberries. They are gold at this time of year.
  • Frissée, (a fancy name for a green leaf lettuce grown here in Quebec.) Packed full of flavor, you can still taste the sun on them and can see the morning dew from the farm.

We arrive back to the kitchen to the beautiful smells of roasted chicken. In all, our trip took 35 minutes, just enough time for the chicken to be perfectly cooked. I rub my hands with glee as we get started:

chickenI begin by wrapping the chicken in foil to rest while you wash and spin my lettuce.

Next up– we demolish the chicken by carefully taking the wings off. I want to save them for garnish later.

Then I take a fork and gently scrape off all the meat from the chicken. But what does one do with the skin? If you are thinking of throwing it out, please, for the love of the LIGHT, don’t. Despite what all those other people tell you, the skin cracklings are the best part! There really is no point in thinking you would be eating less fat if you take it off now, as all the fat has been rendered anyway. Chop up the cracklings and put them with the meat in a nice little pile.

I always put the bones into a Ziploc bag, into the freezer. I have a bone obsession; when I cannot physically close the door anymore, I like to chicken bones in freezermake a little chicken stock for my other concoctions, but that is beyond the scope of this guest post.

Now that task is out of the way, let’s construct this salad.

Some people may wonder about all those towers, designs, and architectural plates chefs like to present to you in the restaurants. Truth is– it is all just smoke and mirrors. If the ingredients are not fresh, expertly prepared, or prepared in a way that is appropriate, then you will not enjoy the experience. Eat an apple made of plastic, and you will see how the appearance of perfection does nothing for the taste.

The ingredients do the talking here, so a little dressing of a fruity olive oil, some light red wine vinegar tossed into the washed frissée, then a generous helping of the shredded chicken goodness. Compliment it with sliced, succulent peaches, the sliced avocado and generous handful of blueberries. Finally, for the artistic portion, arrange the drummettes in the back area for height. You can even call this dish an appetizer and a salad. Your friends will call it great either way!

System D Salad of Frissée with Spatchcocked Chicken, Peaches, Avocado, and Blueberries  Serves 4 CLICK here for a printable recipe

  • 2 lb free-range organic chicken, spatchcocked
  • to taste barbecue chicken spice
  • 1 head green leaf lettuce, such as frisee
  • 2 avocados, peeled, sliced ¼ inch thick
  • 1 pt locally grown blueberries, washed
  • 4 peaches, washed, pitted, cut into wedges
  • to taste dressing of your choice, (I loved the empty jar mustard vinaigrette!)

Spatchcocked and summer fruit saladSpatchcock the chicken; lay it out flat. Season both sides liberally with barbecue spice, and place breast up in a pan with a wire rack. The key here is air circulation. Place it in a 350°F oven and roast the chicken until the juices run clear from the thigh bones, about 30 to 35 minutes. Remove the chicken from the oven, tent with aluminum foil to allow the chicken to rest.

Remove the wing and drummettes from the chicken, reserve for garnish. Using a fork, gently scrape all bits of meat from the chicken bones, keeping them in a neat little pile. Be sure to save the skin, cut it up into little strips to mix in with the chicken meat.

Cut up the green leaf or frisee lettuce, wash in cold water; spin dry. Toss with either olive oil and red wine vinegar, or your favorite vinaigrette.

Arrange the shredded chicken in the middle, avocado slices to the left, peach slices to the right, and the blueberries to fill in the spaces. Finally, cap off your masterpiece of System D works with the chicken drummettes as a garnish.

Present your masterpiece to the guests, and revel in their enjoyment. Remember, while there may not have been anything in the fridge to start, we managed to pull off a great dish, System D Style!


Jason from The Well Done Chef

Sippity Sup