Spatchcock saffron chicken (joojeh kabab)
- August 2023
- Serves 4-6
- Hands-on time 40 min, plus 12 hours marinating and resting
If you’re looking for a new and interesting way to barbecue a spatchcock chicken, the good news is, you’ve found it! This recipe comes from Leyli Homayoonfar chef-owner of award-winning Bab Haus.
Leyli says: “A modern twist on a Persian classic – the joojeh kabab – this is my go-to dish when it comes to summer entertaining. Spatchcocking the chicken makes for easy prep and halves the cooking time. Serve alongside a deliciously moreish salad of labneh, charred courgette, feta, almond and dates.”
Loved this recipe? Try juicy chicken and prawn kofta next.
- 58g (16g saturated)
- 20g (18g sugars),
- 400g thick greek yogurt
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- Finely grated zest and juice 1 lemon, plus 1 for squeezing
- 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
- 1 tbsp date molasses
- 6 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra to drizzle
- 85g dates, pitted and chopped
- 1 large courgette, cut into 1cm thick rounds
- 75g feta, crumbled
- 50g almond
- 50g walnuts
- Handful parsley, chopped
- 1 tsp sumac
- 4 flatbreads to serve
For the chicken
- Large pinch saffron
- 1 large chicken (about 1.7kg)
- 2 onions
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- 3 tbsp yogurt
- 1 tsp turmeric
- Juice 1 lemon
- Charcoal barbecue
- Probe thermometer
- Prepare the chicken and the labneh at least 12 hours in advance. For the chicken, put the saffron in a pestle and mortar, grind to a coarse powder, then cover with 100ml tepid water and set aside to bloom. To spatchcock the chicken, put the chicken breast-side down on a chopping board and, using a sharp knife or kitchen scissors, cut down either side of the spine to remove the backbone. Turn the chicken back over, then press down evenly on the breasts with the heel of your hands to flatten out the chicken (you’ll hear a slight crack). Tuck the wings behind the breasts. Use a sharp knife to lightly score across the skin and the flesh of the legs and breast; this will help the marinade to penetrate deeper.
- To make a marinade, coarsely grate the onions and put in a large bowl with the garlic, yogurt, steeped saffron water, turmeric, lemon juice and a good pinch of sea salt. Mix well, then massage into the spatchcocked chicken. Cover and chill for 12-24 hours.
- To make the labneh, arrange a double layer of muslin cloth over a sieve and spoon in the greek yogurt. Put the sieve over a bowl, lightly cover and refrigerate for at least 12 hours
- When ready to cook, light your barbecue and wait for it to get to a steady and even heat with white coals (not too fierce), ensuring the grill plate is also hot. In a large bowl, combine the crushed garlic, grated zest and juice of 1 lemon, the red wine vinegar, date molasses, 6 tbsp olive oil and chopped dates, then set aside.
- Season the sliced courgette with salt and drizzle with olive oil. Once the coals are ready, put the courgette slices on the grill and close the lid. Cook for 1-2 minutes until char lines appear, then turn over and repeat. Add to the bowl of dressed dates, cover and leave the charred courgettes to marinate in the dressing while the chicken is cooking.
- Check the barbecue isn’t too hot (if you have a thermometer it should be around 160°C). Remove the chicken from the marinade and put on the grill breast-side down. Grill for 20 minutes before turning over, then continue to cook for another 40 minutes, turning occasionally to ensure the skin doesn’t blacken too much. The chicken should reach an internal temperature of 75°C in the thickest part of the thigh. Remove from the barbecue and allow to rest for 5 minutes before carving. Remove the legs first, then chop through the breast bone and halve or quarter the breasts for easy shareable pieces. Drizzle over some olive oil, squeeze over some lemon juice and sprinkle with a pinch of sea salt.
- Remove the strained yogurt from the fridge, remove the muslin and discard the whey at the bottom of the bowl. Tip the labneh out onto a serving platter and use the back of a spoon to spread it out in a circular motion. Spoon over the date dressing with the charred courgettes, followed by a scattering of the crumbled feta. Arrange the chicken on top. Scatter over the nuts and parsley, a sprinkle of sumac and a good drizzle of olive oil. Serve with plenty of grilled flatbreads to mop up all the delicious flavours.
You need to start preparing this dish the day before you intend to eat.
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