One of my gifts at Christmas was this cookbook, which promises to provide us with many yummy meals, though they do seem to have a lot of ingredients, and may not be terribly simple. I know many people love Jamie Oliver, think he’s cute and sexy and so on…me, his mouth bugs me too much. I guess I’m like a Seinfeld character, in that any lame thing can be enough to keep my amorous feelings at bay. I mean, I can barely love Curtis Stone, with his heavy breathing while he cooks…Thankfully, my real life love isn’t a heavy breather, and has a completely normal mouth, that doesn’t look like he forgot to wipe it after eating an orange or something. Whew. Anyway, our first recipe from this cookbook is for Spatchcocked Chicken, a term I’ve never heard before. The recipe called for asparagus, but I grew up in Stockton, which claims to be the asparagus capital of the world, so there’s no way I would buy or eat asparagus in January. Civilized humans wait until April at least. When it’s fresh and local and really good. So instead, I used carrots, though I cooked them the same way the recipe called for. I also deglazed the pan with a bit of white wine. Mmmm.
Grilled Spatchcocked Chicken with New Potatoes, Roast Asparagus and Herby Yogurt
This is a lovely summertime, snacky, trattoria, homestyle dish. Your butcher will do the spatchcocking for you if you ask nicely. Spatchcocking is cutting a chicken open through its back and flattening it out so it cooks quickly. Its an ideal way to prepare a chicken for grilling or barbecuing.
For the marinade:
A small bunch of fresh marjoram or oregano, leaves picked, or 1 tablespoon good-
quality dried oregano
Juice of 1 lemon
1 small (about 3 1/2 lb.) spatchcocked chicken, preferably free-range or organic
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 3/4 lb. new potatoes
A knob of butter
2 handfuls of asparagus, trimmed
1 1/2 cups plain or Greek yogurt
A handful of fresh soft, fragrant herbs (parsley, mint, chervil or tarragon, or a mix of
these), leaves picked
Slash the chicken legs about ½ inch deep in a few places – this will help the marinade get into the meat, and the thighs to cook in the same time as the breast.
Mix together the marjoram or oregano, the juice from one of the lemons and a glug of olive oil and rub this all over your chicken. Leave to marinate for half an hour outside the fridge, or a couple of hours in the fridge if you have the time. Don’t leave it overnight though, because the lemon juice will cook the meat.
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Heat a griddle pan, season the chicken generously and place skin side down on the griddle. Once its golden and starts to crisp (after about 4 minutes), turn the chicken over, add a whole lemon to the pan and then put the pan in your preheated oven.
While the chicken is cooking, scrub the potatoes and put them in a pan of cold salted water, then bring to the boil and simmer until nicely cooked. Drain in a colander and put them back into the pan with the butter, a squeeze of lemon juice, and a good pinch of salt and pepper. Pop the lid on to keep them warm.
After 45 to 55 minutes, your chicken should be golden and the meat tender and cooked. You can test it to see if its ready by pinching the leg meat away from the bone – if it comes away easily you’re in business; if not pop it back in for another 10 minutes. When all is good, set the whole roasted lemon to one side, put the chicken on a platter and allow it to rest for 5 minutes in a warm place. Pour any excess fat out of the griddle pan and put your asparagus into it in a single layer. Griddle for about 3 or 4 minutes until tender. When the asparagus are cooked, toss them in a little olive oil, salt and pepper and a squeeze of lemon juice. I like to pile the asparagus up on a large platter with the potatoes and the beautifully cooked crispy chicken. Cut the whole roasted lemon in half, squeeze the juice into the yogurt, season with salt and pepper and serve in a bowl with your chicken. Scatter your delicate herbs generously over the whole dish – delicious! Serves 4.
ps..What’s a glug? Or a knob? Oh, never mind. I figured it out.