Spatchcocked chicken, also referred to as butterflied chicken, simply means a chicken which has had it’s back bone removed and then been flattened. It’s very simple to do at home and only requires a sharp knife or some poultry shears and a little brute force. If you’re purchasing your chicken from a butcher they can do this for you, but truly it’s so easy that I never bother. For me the two main benefits in spatchcocking is the reduced cooking time and the ease in which you can carve the chicken. In this version a mixture of butter, garlic and sage is spread between the meat and the skin of the chicken which ensures every bite is moist and flavourful. If you’re not a fan of sage then tarragon would also be delicious. The side dish of white beans goes so well with poultry and it’s something I make often to go with all kinds of roasts. It takes as long as the chicken to cook so the whole meal can be on the table in just over an hour.
Ingredients – Serves 3-4
1 large organic or free range chicken (1.8 – 2 kg)
50g butter, at room temperature
1 small bunch of sage, finely chopped
2-3 cloves of garlic, finely minced
Salt & freshly ground black pepper
Braised White Beans
1 tablespoon olive oil
120g speck, diced – you can substitute pancetta or thick cut bacon
2 -3 cloves of garlic, chopped
2 cans of cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
¾ cup chicken stock
½ cup chopped parsley
Salt & freshly ground black pepper
2-3 tablespoons cream
To spatchcock the chicken, wash and dry the chicken well. Put it on a cutting board, breast side down and with the rear of the chicken facing you. Using a share knife or poultry shears cut all the way from the butt of the bird to the top on each side of the back bone – the bones are not that hard to cut through and you’ll be left with a long strip of the spine which you can discard or keep for the stock pot. Turn the chicken around so it’s breast side up and using both hand push down on the centre of the chicken to flatten it. To make the herb butter combine the butter, sage, garlic and some salt and pepper in a small bowl. Using your fingers carefully separate the skin form the breasts of the chicken, and do the same with the leg and thigh area making sure not to pierce the skin. Take knobs of the butter and put it under all the areas where the skin has been separated and flatten out to spread. Rub the chicken with a little olive oil and season well with salt and pepper. Place it skin side up on a roasting tray and bake for 40 minutes (if you’re using a smaller chicken it will cook in less time so check after 30 minutes). Test with a skewer to make sure the juices run clear when pierced between the leg and thigh.
Remove and let it rest for 10 minutes before carving. Carving the chicken into pieces will be extremely easy. I normally portion it into 4 – 2 breasts with the wing and 2 leg and thigh pieces.
To make the beans heat the olive oil in a frypan over medium heat and add the speck. Cook stirring until the fat has started to render. Add the garlic and cook for a few minutes more, making sure not to burn or brown the garlic. Add the beans along with a generous pinch of salt and pepper and stir them around gently until they’re coated with the oil in the pan. Add the stock and bring to a simmer. Lower the heat and cover the pan and let it cook very gently for about 25 minutes. Add the cream and parsley and cook again, uncovered for another 5 minutes. Taste for seasoning and serve hot alongside the chicken. I sometimes drizzle some of the cooking juices from the chicken over the beans which makes them even more delicious.