Spatchcock (or butterfly) chicken is a way of cooking a chicken by cutting out the backbone and pressing the chicken out flat. It’s handy for cooking on the barbecue but also great for cooking in the oven because you can reduce the cooking time by about 30 minutes, keeping energy costs down. Cooking chicken this way is also useful if your oven is small (like mine) as the flattened chicken leaves more room for all your other trays of food.
This recipe uses anchovies mashed with butter, spread over the chicken and roasted on a bed of garlic, onions and rosemary. The anchovy butter gives a rich seasoning without imparting a strong anchovy flavour and provides a delicious gravy.
I often cook spatchcock chicken with large green olives, lemon and thyme but I think that’s more suited to summer – this is more of a winter recipe.
Instead of roast potatoes I served the chicken with a variety of root vegetables (sweet potato, carrots and parsnips) which I grated, mixed with a bit of honey and cooked in layers in muffin moulds, for 30 minutes. I also served tender stem broccoli.
I never waste anything on a chicken. With the leftovers I first pull off the best bits from the breast and leg and store separately for another meal. Then I pull off as many of the smaller pieces of meat as possible, to freeze for another time (and use in soups, risottos, pilaf etc). Finally I make stock by putting the carcass and bones in a saucepan with a carrot, sticks of celery, onion, broccoli stalks (or similar vegetables), bay leaves and peppercorns, covering with cold water and bringing to the boil before simmering for 30 minutes. Once drained the stock can be frozen.
Spatchcock chicken with anchovy butter
- I small to medium chicken (about 1kg to 1.5 kg)
- 1 tin of anchovies, drained
- 3 sprigs of fresh rosemary
- 4 whole cloves of garlic, unpeeled
- 2 medium onions, quartered
- Large knob of butter
- 1 glass of dry white wine
- Olive oil
- Pre-heat the oven to 220C.
- Prepare the chicken: place breast side down and with kitchen scissors cut along the the backbone and remove it. Turn over and press down with the heel of your hands to flatten the chicken.
- Put the garlic, onions and rosemary in a roasting tray and place the chicken on top. Drizzle over some olive oil and put in the oven for 10 minutes.
- Mash the anchovies and the butter together and season with pepper. Remove the chicken and spread the anchovy butter all over the surface. Put back in the oven and turn down the temperature to 190C and cook for a further 15 -20 minutes or until the chicken juices run clear when you insert a skewer into the thickest part of the meat. Cover with foil and leave to rest while you make the gravy.
- Make the gravy by heating the roasting pan on the hob and scraping up all the juices. Add a glass of wine and about the same quantity of boiling water and bring to the boil. Simmer for about 10 minutes – thicken if necessary with some cornflour mixed with a bit of cold water. Sieve the mixture for a smooth gravy or keep it chunky and rustic.