Spatchcock Chicken

Spatchcock chicken is something that I watched on TV for years before trying.  I always thought it looked too difficult and cheffy and put it in a box with being able to chop vegetables at the speed of light.  Armed with a trusty pair of scissors, though, it really isn't all that difficult.  It's totally worth doing, too, as it means that the bird cooks more evenly, resulting in the most juicy and succulent meat.

Serves 4

1 small-medium free-range whole chicken
4tsp caraway seeds
2tsp cumin seeds
1tsp coarse sea salt
2 cloves garlic
Zest 2 lemons
4 lemons (inc. above lemons)
4 bulbs of garlic
12 shallots
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Olive oil

Oven temp: 180C
Cooking time: 1hr

- To spatchcock/butterfly the chicken, place it on a chopping board, breast down (the other way up to how it is packaged), and legs away from you. 

- Familiarise yourself with the chicken.  Feel for the backbone which runs along the centre, with the ribs either side. Take a pair of strong kitchen scissors and remove the parsons nose. Pop it in a freezer bag.

- Remove the backbone by cutting along either side of it where the ribs and backbone join.  Place the backbone in the bag with the parsons nose and freeze – use when you next make stock.

- Rinse the chicken under a cold tap and pat dry.  Place it back on the board, breast side up.  Open it up so that it lies relatively flat.  Use the heel of your hand to press down firmly on the wing end of the bird, in the centre of the breasts.  You might hear a crack.  The bird should now lie a fairly flat. 

- Gently separate the skin from the chicken breasts and legs by running your fingers/hand between the skin and meat, being careful not to tear it.  Put the chicken to one side.

- Heat a small frying pan and dry toast the caraway and cumin seeds on a medium heat, for 3-4 minutes.  Transfer into a pestle and mortar and grind to a powder. Add 1tsp of sea salt and 2 cloves of garlic.  Grind again to break down the garlic, until you have a semi dry paste.  Add the lemon zest and stir.

- Rub half the spice mix in-between the skin and meat, covering as much of the bird as possible.  Combine the remainder of your spice mix with a glug of olive oil.  Rub over the chicken skin, again making sure you cover the bird.

 Put in an oven proof dish, cover and let marinade in the fridge for a couple of hours, or better, overnight.

- Remove the chicken from the fridge 30 minutes before cooking. 

- Preheat oven to 180C.

- Cut the lemons and garlic bulbs in half (horizontally, not vertically).  Remove the skin from the shallots, keeping them whole.   Place under and around the chicken and drizzle with a glug of olive oil.

- Pop into the oven for 50 minutes – 1 hr.  Remove and let rest, covered with tin foil and a few tea towels for 20-30 minutes. 

- Serve in a dish with the garlic, lemons and shallots.  Pair with some sautéed greens, roasted cauliflower and/or squash.