What’s cooking today: Honey-mustard spatchcock chicken
Making your own baste and spatchcocking a chicken yourself is always better than the store-bought variety. And it’s quick and easy.
A little product called moutarde de Dijon au miel, literally Dijon mustard mixed with honey, is worth having in your kitchen arsenal. But you could mix your own honey with Dijon mustard too (in equal parts). I used it as a baste for a spatchcock chicken, adding fresh thyme leaves, salt and pepper, and diluting it with water. This stretches it, of course, but also softens the impact of the mustard and helps a little to go a long way.
Key to this, I think, is to loosen the breast and leg skin so that you can use a spoon to slip some of the marinade under it, to flavour the meat directly. Otherwise, the skin would distance the flavour from the meat.
1 whole chicken, wing tips removed
3 heaped Tbsp Dijon mustard with honey (moutarde de Dijon au miel)
3 Tbsp water
2 Tbsp picked thyme leaves
Cracked black pepper
Coarse sea salt
Spatchcock, verb. To split open. First, spatchcock the chicken by putting it breast side down on a working surface. Use a sharp chef’s knife to cut all the way down both sides of the spine so that you can remove it in one piece. This is discarded or frozen for a future stock. Then, turn the bird over and push down with the palms of both hands, to flatten(or butterfly) the bird.
Mix the mustard and water to a smooth paste on a bowl and stir in the thyme leaves. Add salt and pepper, and stir.
Prise the breast skin at a suitable point and push in to create a pocket. Ditto with the thigh skin. Use a slim spoon to put some baste inside, and massage the skin from outside to spread it around.
Brush the rest of the baste on top and some on the fleshy parts underneath.
Push skewers in from the legs/thighs all the way through to the opposite upper breast. Do the same on the other side. Consult the photo to see how that works. Refrigerate for several hours.
Build up a large store of very hot coals; have more burning nearby in case the coals cool down too much. Braai in a hinged grid on hot coals, turning every three to five minutes, until done and the skin is crisp. It needs a good hour to be sure it’s cooked to the bone. But frequent turning is key; the honey risks burning if not turned often. DM/TGIFood
Tony Jackman is Galliova Food Champion 2021. His book, foodSTUFF, is available in the DM Shop. Buy it here.
Follow Tony Jackman on Instagram @tony_jackman_cooks. Share your versions of his recipes with him on Instagram and he’ll see them and respond.
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