This recipe pays homage to a truly ancient method of cooking meat, whereby two heavy stones were heated and a piece of meat or vegetables with lamb fat (kurdyuk) was squashed between the stones. Chicken never tasted so good!
Technique tip: Use kitchen scissors to cut along either side of the spine of the chicken. That's it; your bird is spatchcocked!
Swap option: If lamb fat is not your thing or you can't find the good stuff, try lard, lardo (Italian cured pigs' fat) or pancetta. Also, you can use whatever vegetables are in season. And, if I can find them, I would always substitute Spanish Padrón peppers for the green bell pepper and chiles in this recipe, as they work so well here and you might get a surprise spicy kick.
Special equipment: Two roasting trays (one larger than the other) and a brick or heavy pan
- 1¾ ounces lamb fat
- 2 green chiles, whole
- 1/4 butternut squash, skin on, sliced into 1/4-inch half moons
- 2 red onions, peeled and quartered
- 2 poussins or 1 small organic chicken
- 4 pieces sourdough bread, sliced
- Sea salt flakes
- Freshly ground black pepper
1. Preheat the oven to 425°F. Place the oven shelf at the very bottom of the oven, and remove all the other shelves, as you need space to put your weight on top.
2. When all the vegetables are prepped, spatchcock your poussins or chicken. Place the bird breast side down on a cutting board. Using sharp kitchen scissors or a knife, cut along either side of the backbone. Then turn the bird over and flatten with the palm of your hand.
3. Place the lamb fat in the larger roasting tray and heat in the oven until sizzling. Heat the smaller roasting tray and your heavy weight at the same time.
4. Carefully add the poussins or chicken cut side down on top of the fat in the larger tray and layer the vegetables all around. Season with salt and pepper, then cover everything with parchment paper and top with the smaller tray.
5. Put the whole thing into the oven and place the hot weight on top of the smaller sheet pan, then roast for 40 minutes for the poussin, or about an hour if you are using a chicken.
6. Remove the weight, small sheet pan and paper, then tuck the bread slices underneath the chicken and cook for a further 5 minutes. Check that the chicken is done by pulling at one of the legs, it should pull away easily and the juices should run clear. Make sure internal temperature reaches 165°F.
7. I like to serve everything on a platter, with a little plain yogurt, whole radishes and maybe a squeeze of lemon juice.