The Daily Telegraph - Saturday

SPATCHCOCK CHICKEN WITH COCONUT AND SOY

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Spatchcock­ing – flattening out a whole bird by removing its backbone – is a great way to barbecue a whole chicken because the meat cooks quickly and evenly.

Serves four to six

INGREDIENT­S

2kg free-range chicken 1 tbsp olive oil

For the baste

½ x 400g can coconut milk (freeze the rest)

1 garlic clove, finely chopped 2 tbsp soft brown sugar 2 tbsp soy sauce

1 tbsp fish sauce

Zest and juice of 1 lime

To serve

Few sprigs of mint, chopped 2 red chillies, chopped (optional)

METHOD

hOn a chopping board, use a sharp knife to make a few deep slashes through the meat, on both the breast and legs (this helps the heat penetrate to the middle more quickly). Turn the bird breast-side down on the chopping board and, using heavy-duty kitchen scissors, cut down each side of the backbone. Remove and discard. Turn the bird breast-side up and press down firmly to open it out flat. hFire up the barbecue ready for direct and indirect cooking. hDrizzle the chicken with the olive oil and season well with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Lay on to the grill bars, away from the heat source, skin-side up. Rest a heavy object on top to weigh it down; a chapa (heavy griddle plate) is ideal, or use a heavy frying pan. Shut the lid. Cook for 45 minutes, checking once or twice and rotating the chicken to make sure it cooks evenly; leave skin-side up. hMake a baste by stirring together the coconut milk, garlic, brown sugar, soy sauce, fish sauce and the lime zest in a bowl. Reserve the lime for squeezing the juice over the chicken once cooked. hOnce the chicken has had 45 minutes skin-side up, turn it over and cook for a further 10 minutes skin-side down with the lid down. Use tongs to slide it directly over the fire and begin to brush with the baste, using a silicone pastry brush. hKeep basting and turning for another 10-15 minutes until the chicken is deeply golden and cooked through. The temperatur­e on a digital probe thermomete­r should read 74C. hLift the chicken onto a serving board then use a large knife to chop it into pieces. Squeeze over the reserved lime juice and scatter on the mint and chillies, if using.

Choose the right fuel

Charcoal is your single most important ingredient. Sustainabl­y produced charcoal is unrivalled for cooking, and contains no nasty chemicals or additives, and has environmen­tal and economic benefits too.

The myth of cooking out your charcoal until it is white and ashed over is something you only need to do for cheap charcoal, to burn off any additives. With sustainabl­e lumpwood charcoal, you can light it and be cooking on it in no time. Look online for suppliers of sustainabl­e fuel.

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