We’ve been lucky in lockdown having weather that’s screaming out for the BBQ to be lit. And BBQ’s are great, but those standard burgers, sausages and chicken drumsticks can be pretty boring. So, here’s something to step up your game – enter Middle Eastern-inspired Spatchcock Chicken, Homemade Flatbreads and Herb Dressing
This chicken has attitude, and when you bite into it knowing you’ve put it all together, it’s unbelievably satisfying. The most important factor of all though, is that it is ridiculously tasty.
This recipe is inspired by the punchy flavours of the Middle East: fragrant spice blends on charred meat, cooked over coal; interestingly flavoured cold sauces like zhoug, packed with fresh herbs, spices and citrus.
It’s completely open to freestyle. If you can’t go to the shop, use what you’ve got at home. All the ingredients I’ve used are available in supermarkets. Sumac is a berry that’s dried and crushed into a powder with a deep fruity but citrus flavour, found in the spice section.
You’ll find nigella seeds there too. Poussin is a young chicken, so a great size if there’s only a couple of you, but leftovers are great so a regular chicken works fine too. You can even replace the chicken with thick slices of aubergine if you don’t fancy meat.
If you’re not too keen on having a go at spatchcocking your own chicken, that’s no problem – your butcher will do it if you ask them, or just marinate some ready prepared chicken breasts or legs.
How to make Ben’s Spatchcock Chicken, Homemade Flatbreads and Herb Dressing
Prep tip: the chicken needs marinading overnight, so start prepping the chicken the day before you want to eat.
HERB DRESSING: serves 4 with leftovers
- ½ bunch of flat parsley
- ½ bunch of basil
- 2 cloves garlic
- 200ml olive oil
- Zest and juice of 1 lemon
- ½ tsp ground cumin
- ½ tsp ground coriander
Place all the ingredients in a liquidiser and blend, check the seasoning adding salt and pepper to taste. You’ll end up with a smooth, bright green and extremely flavoursome dressing ready to spoon over your crispy barbecued chicken.
Any leftovers are amazing drizzled over a pizza or mixed through salad.
THE CHICKEN: serves 4
- 1 whole poussin or small chicken
- 1 bulb of garlic – chopped
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp sumac
- ½ tbsp oregano
- 1 tbsp paprika
- 1 tbsp cumin
- Salt & pepper
In a bowl, mix together the chopped garlic, sumac, paprika, cumin, oregano, salt, pepper and olive oil. That’s it for the marinade, now for the chicken.
How to spatchcock a chicken
If you’re going all out and taking on the spatchcock, place your poussin or chicken on a chopping board, breast side down. Find the bird’s backbone with your fingers, then when you’ve located it, run a sharp knife along one side of the bone.
Now, using just the tip of the blade against the carcass of the bird, cut the meat off the bird away from the bone, gradually rotating the bird as you go.
As you’re beginning on the back, you’ll end up freeing the meat from the bird’s back and the base of the back of the leg, before working your way around towards the front of the bird, where you’ll release the breast.
The further you get around the carcass, you’ll begin to see you have all of the meat intact, attached to the skin, and laid out flat away from the carcass.
When you remove the final piece of meat, set the carcass aside to make a stock for yourself another time. The only bones left in the meat will be in the wings and the legs.
Lay the spatchcocked meat out flat on a chopping board and rub the marinade all over. Get the marinade into all the little nooks and crannies. Place in a bowl and leave in the fridge overnight.
Ready for that BBQ?
Remove from the fridge 30 minutes before cooking, perfect timing for coals to chill to a good temperature after lighting. Marinate the same way if you’ve opted for buying breasts or legs.
Stick the whole thing skin side down first over the BBQ, at a medium heat, and cook as you would your usual chicken thigh or drumstick. When that skin is crispy and charred, flip it over, and do the same with the exposed meat.
Keep cooking and flipping when necessary until it’s fully cooked. Depending on the size of the chicken and heat of the BBQ, but probably around 20 minutes.
When it’s done, chop it up, whack it in a wrap, drizzle over some of that dressing. Then close your eyes and take your first bite.
FLATBREAD: makes 10 flatbreads
- 500g strong white flour
- 10g salt
- 3.5g dried yeast or 7g fresh yeast
- 340ml tepid water
- 2 tsp nigella seeds – not a must-have but cool if you can
If you have a food mixer, then place all the ingredients in the bowl with the dough hook attachment, and mix on a low speed for 5 minutes.
If you don’t, it’s still easy. Mix all the ingredients in a bowl until they combine and a rough dough forms. Empty the mixture onto a lightly floured surface and, with your hands, knead for 5 minutes until the dough is soft, smooth and noticeably stretchy.
Leave the dough in a covered bowl in room temperature for roughly 2 to 3 hours, or until the mixture appears to have doubled in size.
Place the dough onto a work surface and portion into 10 pieces. Lightly oil the surface and the portions of dough, then one by one flatten with your hands to around 4mm thick. The shape is up to you, either round, oval or uneven is good.
In a hot, dry, non-stick pan with no oil, place the flatbread one at a time, and cook for roughly one minute. Flip the flatbread, the first side should be a pale cooked colour but with dark brown patches where the dough has scorched in the pan, similar to naan bread.
Repeat this on the second side, gently pushing down on any fatter areas of dough with the back of a spatula. Check that you’re happy they’re cooked, give it a few more seconds either side if you think it needs it, and that’s it – they’re ready to rock’n’roll! UNLESS you want to char them up over the coals for a few seconds before serving.
Let us know if you give it a try!
Post your comments below, or tag us on socials @BittenOxford if you have a go at the spatchcock chicken. We’d love to see your results!
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