The Simple Cut Jacques Pépin Uses To Minimize Chicken Cooking Time

Jacques Pépin made his name in the U.S. by appearing in a handful of PBS shows featuring his skills, joining the likes of Lidia Bastianich and Julia Child in the hallowed halls of public television chefs. One of his most popular recipes from this program, roasted chicken with mustard and garlic, is simple and features a cooking hack you can use for any future roasted chicken recipes to make them possible to accomplish on a busy weeknight. 

The French chef featured the recipe on an episode of his PBS series "Jacques Pépin: Fast Food My Way." What makes this recipe ideal for a quick weeknight meal is how he prepares the chicken. He begins by spatchcocking a whole chicken, removing the spine so it lays flat and cooks evenly. According to the Chicken Farmers of Canada, spatchcocking a chicken can reduce cooking time by up to 25%, but Pépin reduces that even further by placing some strategic cuts in the slowest-cooking parts of the chicken.

Pépin uses strategic cuts to help spatchcock chicken cook faster

The first cut Pépin makes is basically behind the knee of the chicken, where the drumstick meets the thigh. It's one of the slowest-cooking parts of a chicken, even when splayed out spatchcock style. Without the cut, the chef says the chicken will take an hour to cook; with the cuts made between the joints, the chicken will be done in 30 to 35 minutes. You don't need to go all the way around, just cut deep enough to expose the joint and allow heat to penetrate the meat. He also makes the same cuts where the chicken wing meets the breast, as that part is also slow to cook.

If you're up for giving this method a test run, make sure you're cooking the bird to an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit everywhere — use an instant-read meat thermometer to check where the thigh meets the body and the thickest part of the breast.