Spatchcock Chicken with Gnarley Couscous

Yes I know you’re jealous. I got picked as the first guest blogger on Bread and Sniff it and you didn’t. Don’t fret; my food CV is quite illustrious. For example, growing up my brothers and I would polish off 2 maybe 3 peanut butter sandwiches during after-school BYC before sitting down at 6pm to a full fledged man sized dinner with a loaf of bread at our feet to make our dinner into a sandwich. At university a standard meal in our 1st year flat would consist of mince, dolmio and tinned tomatoes in a pan with 6 guys hanging around for multiple mince sammies. And tonight, I drove home from work, picked up a 15 pack of BBQ chicken nibbles and polished them off whilst driving the 10 mins to get home. In a manual. Which I must say is not the safest way to drive, or eat. These high end food experiences have made a lasting impression on the luscious Bread and Sniff It ladies. I have known and loved these girls for years and am often in awe of their food creating (and consuming) abilities. Therefore, I am super stoked to have been invited to contribute to what is a beautifully substantial food blog. So big ups to them, and keep doing your thing. In the mean time all you aspiring foodies, get to the back of the line. Danny aka Swinnas aka Breadhead is in the house.

If nothing else, my stories of gluttony highlight that I have always loved being full. Thankfully these days I put a lot more time and effort into the process, rather than the result. Geographically speaking I am a kiwi living in the UK. Oxford to be precise. Food, cricket, tunes and the sea are the 4 staples to my diet with a casual dose of Harry Potter to round out the top 5. I have eaten my way around Asia, India and parts of Europe and am now in the process of doing the same in the UK although I am temporarily halted by an infatuation with scotch eggs. Am I a natural chef? No. But I love to cook, I love to eat and I can follow a recipe. After a good five years of getting involved in the kitchen, I now treat recipes like a 20/20 batting order. Chop it, change it and throw in anything you think will work. Unless you’re talking pastry or baking. In that case stop being a show off and follow the rules. Who do you think you are?!

This recipe originates from Nigel Slater, a legendary chef who is unfortunately as boring as bat shit. The spatchcock chicken is not a new idea but it is a lush way to cook a whole chicken quickly and evenly. The lemon and thyme ensures the meat is moist and will taste epic. Surprisingly though with a whole chicken on show, the couscous makes this meal. Letting it cook in the all the fat, oil, lemon juice and gnarly cooked bits that are left in your roasting tin is genius. Then basically add whatever you feel works. Rocket is right at the top of my list closely followed by feta, cucumber, tomato and red onion. A pretty handy batting order that.

1 x whole chicken (medium sized)

1 x lemon
1 x head of garlic
Olive oil 4 tbsp
Salt n Pep
Couscous 250gs
500mls Chicken stock
1/4 red onion
1/4 Cucumber
1 x Tomato

1)Preheat the oven to 200C. Lay the chook on the chopping board, get a heavy, sharp knife and cut through the backbone of the chicken, opening it out flat. Then place skin side up in an oven tray.

2)Mix together the lemon juice (keep the skins), olive oil, the leaves of 4 thyme sprigs and a dash of salt n pep and drizzle all over the chicken. Quarter the leftover lemon skins and tuck under the chicken along with the individual cloves of a head of garlic. Throw a couple more sprigs of thyme in and around the chicken, you can never have too much herbs after all.Place in the oven for 40-45mins.

3)In that time all you need to do is cut the tomato, cucumber and red onion into salad sized bits. So chill, have a drink and try not to spoil your appetite with peanut butter sandwiches.

4)Once the chicken is golden brown on top and the juices run clear transfer it along with the garlic to another tray slash plate and wrap in tin foil to rest.

5)Put 500ml good quality chicken stock into the roasting tray and heat. Scrape up all the charred goodness on the bottom of the tray. Once satisfied poor all the liquid into a bowl with the couscous and cover for 10mins. Don’t stress if you feel there may be too much liquid. It is. The couscous we are after is not the lovely fluffy kind. We want it moist and stodgy, exploding with lush chickeny goodness

6)After 10 mins, mix the rocket, feta, cucumber and tomato into the couscous and season if necessary. Serve up and don't you dare shy away from the roasted garlic cloves. Enjoy.

Note: Bread optional.


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