The spatchcock idea actually came from Ireland in the eighteenth century, when we needed to whip up a simple, quick meal. The Portuguese then took our idea, added piri-piri, and Nando’s was born.
Spatchcocking is a great way of getting a whole roast chicken cooked in a short space of time. The trick is to find yourself a good butcher who can spatchcock your chicken for you. They will do it in seconds.
- 1 medium-sized chicken (about 1½kg)
- 4 red chillies, chopped (deseeded if you don’t like it too spicy)
- 3 cloves of garlic, crushed sea salt
- 2 teaspoons sweet paprika
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 1 good bunch of flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
- 3–4 sprigs of thyme, leaves removed
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 lemon
To spatchcock the chicken, flip it over so the backbone is facing you. Using a sturdy pair of kitchen scissors or a sharp knife, cut down either side of the backbone, then discard the bone.
Turn the chicken over and push down firmly on the breastbone to flatten out the bird. Make a few slashes in each leg joint to help.
Put the chillies and garlic in a food processor with a good pinch of salt, or use a pestle and mortar. Blend to a paste, then add the paprika, vinegar, parsley (reserving some to garnish), thyme leaves and olive oil.
Mix well, then smear over the chicken. Leave to marinate for at least 1 hour, or overnight if possible. This can be frozen at this stage if you want to have it prepped well in advance.
Fire up the barbecue. When the flames have died down, season the chicken with a couple of pinches of sea salt and place it on the centre of the barbecue, skin-side down. Cook for 15–20 minutes until nicely charred. Flip the chicken over and continue cooking for another 5–15 minutes until cooked through.
Check that the juices run clear, as the heat of every barbecue varies. (To cook in the oven, preheat to 190ºC/375ºF/gas mark 5 and cook for 40–45 minutes on a baking tray. To char the skin, grill for a further 5–10 minutes.) Serve with lemon wedges, some of the chopped parsley.