From time to time, inspiration to create a dish can come merely from a rediscovered culinary term. Such a word is spatchcock. It means to split open a chicken or other fowl along the backside so it can be spread out "butterflied" and grilled or roasted with even surface heat on its two sides. The word and its technique offer double-barreled fun. Not only is spatchcock amusing and impressive to say, but spatchcocking allows, even invites, an under-the-skin stuffing. As the spatchcocked bird roasts, its workhorse filling of greens, mushrooms and cheese melts into a sumptuous, hidden sauce that provides two times the "Aha!"
Preheat the oven to 375°.
Begin roasting the baby beets.
To make the stuffing, sort through the beet greens, discarding all but the tender leaves and stems. Cut them crosswise into thin strips, wash them in plenty of water and transfer to a colander to drip dry. (You should have about 2 1/2 cups of prepared greens.) Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a medium-size sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms and garlic and sauté until wilted, about 1 minute. Add the greens and continue sautéing until the greens are wilted, about 1 minute more. Transfer the vegetables to a bowl. Add the cheese, capers, salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper and 1 1/2 teaspoons of the dill and mix them together.
Split the chickens along one side of the backbone. Open them out and set them on a work surface skin-side up. Press on the breastbones to flatten the chickens. Gently pull the skin away from the breasts and top part of the legs. Stuff the beet-greens mixture under the skin. Place the chickens breast-side up on a rimmed baking sheet large enough to hold them without their touching.
Drizzle oil across the top, sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper and bake until the breasts are golden across the top, the meat is no longer pink between the leg and thigh and the cheese is melted to oozing, 40 to 50 minutes.
Transfer the chickens to a platter, arrange the beets all around and sprinkle the remaining dill over them.
From Bold: A Cookbook of Big Flavors (Workman) by Susanna Hoffman and Victoria Wise.
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Published on December 11, 2013