Although I have no aspirations to be a goddess – domestic or any other kind – I’m a big fan of Nigella Lawson’s recipes and am a happy owner/user of three of her recipe books (and I covet those I don’t already own).
I also enjoy the humour which intersperses her writing. In her book ‘How to Eat‘, she introduces the chapter on Cooking for One with: ‘“Don’t knock masturbation”, Woody Allen once said, “it’s sex with someone I love.”‘!!
But before I digress any further along that topic, this recipe is one I’ve slightly adapted from her book ‘Forever Summer‘ and is one I’ve made countless times and always with great success. This recipe showed me that it’s easier-than-pie to spatchcock a chicken but there’s no reason why you can’t use a braai pack instead.
SPATCHCOCK LEMON & ROSEMARY CHICKEN – Serves 4
You’ll need 1 big chicken (mine had clearly been on steroids, weighing in at 2.6kg), but you could also use 2 smaller ones or a braai pack or whatever else takes your fancy (within limits, obviously)!
Lay the chicken breast side down on a large chopping board. If you’re blonde like me, you can work out which side’s which by standing the chicken on it’s legs (the drumsticks) – they stick downwards from the breast side.
Oy, don’t knock it … it works for me, ok?!?
Using a sharp pair of kitchen shears, cut down along each side of the spine (that’s the top-facing side) and remove the spine completely. Then turn the spineless bird over and flatten it out … you need to put some muscle behind this, but it’s quite therapeutic to punch the unfortunate chicken and watch it spatchcock obligingly under your fist.
Put the chicken into a large Ziploc freezer bag or marinating container that you can flip over without everything spilling everywhere.
Take the leaves of 4 long sprigs of rosemary and pop them into the bag then squeeze the juice of 2 lemons over the chicken, tossing the lemon halves into the bag as well.
Cut 2 large onions into eighths and bung them in with the chicken, pour in 200ml olive oil then seal the bag & squish everything together before refrigerating until needed (at least 4 hours, but I’ve kept it for 4 days this way before without any problem).
Bring it to room temperature before cooking.
Preheat the oven to 210C and line a roasting tin with foil. Lay the chicken in the tin, skin-side up, together with everything in the bag. Roughly tear up another 2 sprigs of rosemary and tuck these between the drumstick & breast.
Cook for about 45 minutes to an hour, basting with the juices every now and then. You can leave it in the oven for ages longer, just reduce the temperature to about 150C and just make sure the juices don’t dry up completely (which is what I did today – I was having far too much fun nattering & drinking wine)!
When you’re ready to eat, take the chicken out of the tin and cut into 4 pieces, sprinkle with a little Maldon salt and serve with the syrupy juices (unless they dried out like mine did, which I don’t normally let happen), oven-roasted baby potato wedges and a salad.