Spatchcock barbecue chicken

By removing the meat from the bone, the cooking time is reduced but you still have the great flavour of the joint. Like the butterflied lamb, a whole chicken can be altered for the barbeque. This is done by removing the backbone, enabling the bird to be flattened out for even cooking, the term for this is spatchcock, meaning butterflied. I tend to make the marinade for this recipe using whatever I find in my fridge or cupboards – see below.

1.5kg free range or organic chicken
2 lemons
4 tablespoons of olive oil
3 garlic cloves, crushed with skin on
2 teaspoons of smoked paprika
Sea salt

To spatchcock the chicken: put on a chopping board, breast-side down, and cut along either side of the back bone with a pair of good poultry or kitchen scissors. Open up the chicken, turn it over, and press firmly along the breastbone with the palm of your hand until the chicken is lying flat. If you are not comfortable doing this simply ask your butcher to spatchcock the chicken for you.
Mix the oil, crushed garlic, salt, pepper, lemon zest, lemon juice and paprika. Brush this all over the skin of the chicken and leave in the fridge for at least thirty minutes to marinate. To cook on a barbecue: place the chicken on a medium heat, cook for five minutes on each side to seal, reduce the temperature and cook for approximately twenty more minutes per side, turning regularly. Baste the chicken with a mix of lemon juice and olive oil. To check that it has cooked through, pierce with a knife between the thighs and breastbone: the juice should run clear with no trace of blood. Remove from the heat and leave to rest, covered with foil, for ten to fifteen minutes. Cut into portions, drizzle with lemon juice and seasoning. Serve with lemon quarters and potato salad.

Recipe variation.

For an Asian twist: in a bowl mix the zest and juice of one orange, five tablespoons of soy sauce, three tablespoons of dry sherry, one teaspoon of Chinese five-spice, four crushed garlic cloves, a thumb size piece of fresh root ginger, grated and 2 tablespoons of honey. Rub the marinade over the chicken and leave for three hours.

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