Instead of serving a huge turkey at your Thanksgiving table that will take hours to cook and might even dry out, try making a Spatchcock Chicken instead and you will get it right every time! The technique of splitting and flattering the bird yields a perfect roasted chicken and exposes more of the skin to crisp up. What could be wrong with that? By cooking the chicken in root vegetables braised in homemade mulled apple cider, the meat will remain moist and packed with Thanksgiving flavor. (You can also ask your butcher to spatchcock the chicken for you if you don’t want to do it yourself.)
Place the whole chicken on a clean cutting board, breast side down. Starting at the thigh end of the chicken, cut along one side of the backbone with kitchen shears. Turn the chicken around and cut along the other side of the backbone.
Spread open the chicken and find the keel bone, also known as the breast bone, right down the center. It looks like plastic. Using a sharp knife, make a small cut in the white cartilage that covers the top of the breastbone and bend both halves of the chicken backward at the cut to expose the breastbone. Run your thumbs down both sides of the breastbone to separate it from the meat then pull the bone out.
Flip over the chicken and sprinkle it with the remaining tablespoon of olive oil, salt and pepper.
At this point the vegetables are ready to come out of the oven so you should uncover the casserole dish. Place the spatchcock chicken over the garlic and vegetables and place back in the oven uncovered for 1 hour.
Note: At the 45 minute mark, open the oven to check on the chicken, which should be just starting to brown. Spoon the cider juice from the bottom of the casserole pan right over the chicken then let it cook for another 15 minutes, until the skin is golden brown.
Slice the sweet red apples, place them in the food processor and blend until the consistency of applesauce.
Line a bowl with a cheesecloth then pour the pureed apples in the bowl. Squeeze the cheesecloth until all of the juice drips into the bowl. Ten apples should produce around 2 cups of juice.
Pour the raw apple juice, now called apple cider, into a pot and add the sliced orange, cinnamon sticks, whole cloves and ground nutmeg. Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium heat and take it right off the stove. Set the mulled apple cider aside for the vegetables.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Place the chopped sweet potatoes, squash, onion and garlic in a large casserole dish and drizzle with 1 tablespoon of olive oil, salt and pepper.
Pour 1 cup of the mulled apple cider over vegetables, cover the dish with foil and braise in the oven for 30 minutes.