A roast chicken is a great and fairly inexpensive way to feed a few people at lunch. Rather than making the traditional English Sunday lunch, why not marinate it in spices and spatchcock it? It halves the cooking time and makes it a bit more informal. I grill mine so you also get lovely charred bits here and there, adding to the flavour. This would be so good on the barbecue as well.
If you don’t have zatar in your spice drawer, you can easily make it yourself by mixing together dried thyme, oregano, sumac and sesame seeds. I also like to add some coriander seeds and a pinch of chilli flakes, for which I’d probably get into trouble for.
I bought a large and small chicken just to be sure. I also wanted to be sure I’d have a thigh or two to snack on from the fridge the next day. We eat this with baba ganoush, spiced potatoes and a sumac, tomato and cucumber salad. I cut the chickens into portions and everyone helped themselves from the middle of the table. Mucky, juicy hands all round.
2 free-range chickens. Approximately 1.8kg and 1.2kg
A handful of zatar, enough to rub over both chickens
A good few glugs of olive oil
Salt and pepper
Get the grill really hot. While that’s happening, with some strong scissors, preferably poultry ones, (I’ve used the secateurs on one occasion) cut out the backbone of each chicken. Lay the chicken on a board and flatten it down with the palm of your hand.
Stab it all over a few times with a knife and pour over the olive oil and spices.
Give it a good massage, making sure everywhere is spiced then lay them both on an oven tray, they should fit snugly.
Grill for about 15 minutes each side, until there are no pink juices then chop up on a board and bring to the table along with a lot of kitchen paper.