What’s cooking today: High and low spatchcock chicken

What’s cooking today: High and low spatchcock chicken
Tony Jackman’s high and low spatchcock chicken. (Photo: Tony Jackman)

Prepare the marinade for this spatchcock chicken in the morning or the night before. This was a big bird, so it required slow cooking for a good while to get it cooked to the bone, followed by intense heat to get it crisp and golden.

Low coals, high coals. The trick is to burn down your wood or charcoal to one side, while shovelling the quantity of coals you need to the opposite side, beneath the grid. Start with the bird high above low coals, and finish with it low over very hot coals to achieve a golden, crunchy skin.


1 large hand-reared chicken, spatchcocked

½ cup hoisin sauce

⅓ cup sweet soy sauce

2 tsp sesame oil

Garlic salt

White pepper


Lay the chicken out on a board in front of you, upside down and with the parson’s nose facing you. Use sharp kitchen scissors to cut along both sides of the spine, from the parson’s nose to the other end. Flatten the chicken downwards with the palm of your hand.

Combine the hoisin, sweet soy, sesame oil, garlic salt and white pepper in a container large enough to hold the chicken, and douse the bird thoroughly all over.

Leave in the fridge to marinate for a day or overnight. Turn now and then.

Skewer the bird twice by placing it flat on a surface in front of you, and pushing one skewer cross-wise inwards through the thigh and then the breast, and repeating on the opposite side. 

Cook it high above low coals for at least an hour, turning often for even cooking, but err on the side of cooking the bone side for longer. When the bird is cooked to the bone, stack up the coals, lower the grid, and braai until the skin is crunchy and golden. Test for doneness by inserting a skewer into the meatiest part. It should come out clean. If, when slicing through, there is still some pinkness at the bone, put it back on the coals for a few more minutes.

I braaied halves of butternut wrapped in heavy duty foil, with similar aromatics, or use chopped garlic, olive oil and a little honey or sweet soy. DM/TGIFood

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.

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

SUBSCRIBE: There’s much more from Tony Jackman and his food writing colleagues in his weekly TGIFood newsletter, delivered to your inbox every Saturday. Subscribe here. Also visit the TGIFood platform, a repository of all of our food writing.


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