Grilled Spatchcock Chicken with Lemon and Olives

Summer cooking should be no-fuss, easy to prepare and jam packed with flavour. This grilled chicken recipe ticks all those boxes. It’s got flavours reminiscent of Southern Italy ( raisins, anchovy, lemon) and it needs to be made ahead so you can allow the marinade to permeate the meat.

A lot of people shy away from cooking whole chickens, but it is in fact one of the most simple, and impressive, meals you can prepare. By removing the backbone, a spatchcocked (flattened) chicken cooks faster, and is easier to cut into pieces when serving.

I like to serve this alongside a crisp green salad and some boiled herby potatoes. It’s also delicious the next day, shredded and tossed through some mayo and mustard sandwiched between two slices of fresh sourdough.

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Photography: Suech and Beck

Serves 4-6

Ingredients:

1 whole chicken, spatchcocked (about 3lb) *

Kosher salt and ground black pepper

2 lemons

5 Tbsp olive oil

4 garlic cloves, smashed

1/4 cup raisins

1 Tbsp sherry vinegar

3 anchovy filets, finely chopped

1 Tbsp thyme leaves, plus 3 extra sprigs

½ cup castelvetrano or green olives, pitted and torn

¼ cup flat leaf parsley, chopped

Method:

  1. One hour before cooking, season the chicken liberally with salt and pepper. Allow to sit at room temperature.

  2. Thinly slice 1 lemon into rounds. Place into a small bowl with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and 2 cloves of garlic. Place raisins into a small bowl and add sherry vinegar. Set aside.

  3. In another bowl, combine the remaining cloves of garlic, anchovy filets, juice from remaining lemon, 1 tablespoon of thyme leaves and 3 tablespoons of olive oil. Stir through olives and season with pepper.

  4. If using an outdoor grill, preheat to 500F. Create indirect heat by turning off the middle or one side. Reduce the temp to hover around 415F. Lightly oil the grates by placing vegetable oil onto paper towel and rubbing the oil over the BBQ grates. If using an oven, preheat to 425F.

  5. Pat the chicken dry and coat with remaining tablespoon of olive oil. Place skin side down on the grill grates with no heat below them. Otherwise, place skin side down in an ovenproof pan and place in the oven. Cover and cook for 25 minutes. Carefully flip the bird and continue cooking for another 25-30 minutes, until the juices run clear. Remove the chicken and allow it to rest while you grill the lemons that have been sitting in the oil.

  6. Place the chicken on a rimmed platter. Drizzle the olive, anchovy, lemon mixture all over the chicken and allow it to marinade for up to 20 minutes. Top with soaked raisins, toasted pine nuts and parsley.

*A butcher will most likely remove the backbone to “spatchcock” the chicken. Otherwise, a good pair of kitchen shears and a youtube video is your next best option!