What’s cooking today: Sage-butter Spatchcock Chicken

What’s cooking today: Sage-butter Spatchcock Chicken
Sage-butter chicken flatty, portioned. (Photo: Tony Jackman)

Sage and butter make a bit of magic together and flavour a chicken beautifully. This recipe for a chicken ‘flatty’ or spatchcock chicken makes a hero of the combination.


1 whole chicken

10 to 12 sage leaves

4 Tbsp butter

Salt and pepper to taste

Sage and onion sauce:

1 small onion, chopped

2 Tbsp butter

Chicken stock made from the spine you cut away

6 sage leaves

Salt and pepper to taste


Prepare the chicken by turning it on its back and using sharp kitchen scissors to cut along both sides of the spine from the parson’s nose away from you. Keep the spine for making stock.

Turn the chicken over and press down with your hands so that the breast bone snaps and the bird becomes flat.

Prise the breast skin carefully with your fingers so you can slip sage leaves between skin and flesh, 4 to 6 per side. Salt the bird all over.

Melt 4 Tbsp butter on a low heat and simmer 6 or so sage leaves in it for a few minutes, then turn off the heat and leave to steep. Remove the leaves. This sage butter is for basting the chicken.

Smoothe some of the sage butter under the breast skin and smear the rest all over the outside of the skin. If there’s any left over, use it to baste the bird while braaing.

Barbecue the chicken high above hot coals for 30 minutes, turning often. Then move the grid closer to the coals for another 15 minutes for the skin to turn golden brown, turning as required.

For the chicken stock:

Cut the chicken spine (which you trimmed from the chicken) into 4 pieces and place in a pot with 1 roughly chopped onion, 1 chopped carrot, a chopped celery stem, 6 peppercorns, 1 bay leaf. Cover with cold water and bring to a boil. Cook on a high heat until only a quarter of the liquid remains.

For the sauce:

Heat 2 Tbsp butter on a low heat with the sage leaves. Add the chopped onion and sauté till soft but not coloured.

Remove onion with a slotted spoon and reserve. Discard the leaves.

When ready to complete the sauce, return the cooked chopped onion to the pan. Season with salt and pepper. Pour in the chicken stock (see above) through a fine sieve. Simmer for a few minutes, and strain. Blitz with a stick blender. DM/TGIFood

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Send your recipes to [email protected] with a hi-resolution horizontal (landscape) photo.

To enquire about Tony Jackman’s book, foodSTUFF (Human & Rousseau) please email him at [email protected]


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