Spatchcocked roast chicken with herbed ricotta stuffing
- June 2010
- Serves 4
- Takes 40 min to make, 1 hour to cook, plus resting
The stuffing in this spatchcocked chicken recipe is slipped under the skin, protecting the flesh from the heat of the oven and keeping it amazingly moist and succulent.
- 17.2g (8.6g saturated)
- 6.3g (2.4g sugar)
- 350g ricotta cheese, fresh from an Italian deli if possible
- 1.5kg free-range chicken
- 1 garlic clove, crushed
- 15g fresh tarragon, leaves picked and finely chopped
- 25g fresh curly parsley leaves, finely chopped
- 10g fresh chives, finely chopped
- Finely grated zest of ½ lemon
- 25g finely grated Parmesan
- 1 large free-range egg, beaten
- 15g fresh white breadcrumbs
- 4 large sprigs fresh thyme, roughly torn
- 4 unpeeled garlic cloves, bruised
- Vegetable oil, for greasing
If you are using ricotta from a tub, tip it into a sieve, break it up a little with a fork, cover and leave to drain over a bowl overnight. Ricotta from a tub is a bit wetter than the fresh stuff, which is more dry and crumbly.
To spatchcock the bird, place it on a chopping board, breast-side down. Using a pair of poultry shears or strong kitchen scissors, cut down the centre of the backbone so the skin remains firmly attached to the bone on either side. Turn the chicken breast-side up, open it up and then, using the heel of your hand, press firmly along the breast bone so that you break it and the wishbone to make the bird lie flat. Then, starting at the neck end, carefully push your fingers between skin and flesh, first over one breast and leg, then the other, leaving the skin attached at the end of each leg.
For the stuffing, tip the ricotta into a bowl and mash with a fork. Add the garlic, chopped herbs, lemon zest, Parmesan, egg, ½ tsp salt and some pepper, and mix well. Stir in the breadcrumbs.
Preheat the oven to 180°C/fan160°C/Gas 4. With one hand, lift the chicken skin away from the flesh. With the other, spoon small amounts of stuffing over the flesh of the legs and then the breasts, making sure there is an even layer over all the meat. Secure the skin in place at the neck opening with small, fine trussing skewers or cocktail sticks. From the outside, smooth and shape the stuffing over the bird so that it takes on its natural shape.
Scatter the thyme sprigs and bruised garlic cloves down the centre of a lightly oiled roasting tin and place the chicken on top, breast-side up. Brush it with oil, season and transfer to the oven. Roast for 1 hour, or until the juices run clear when the thickest part of the meat is pierced with a skewer.
Lift the chicken onto a board and leave it to rest for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, place the roasting tin over a medium-high heat, add a couple of tablespoons of water and deglaze the tin, scraping with a wooden spoon. Strain the juices into a small pan, skim away the excess oil and keep warm.
To serve, cut the chicken in half down the breast bone and then cut off each leg along the crease between the thigh and the body. Then, if you wish, separate the drumstick from the thigh at the joint and cut each breast into two. Serve with the cooking juices, and baby carrots tossed in summer herb butter.
A spatchcocked chicken has been split open along the backbone and opened out flat for cooking. This helps both the dark and white meat to cook evenly, and also helps to cut down slightly on the cooking time.
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