If you love the flavours of Nando's chicken, this finger licking good, roasted butterflied chicken recipe is for you! The citrus, garlic and herb Portuguese-African flavours are the perfect pairing with roasted chicken. And butterflying the chicken speeds up the cooking time, making it a great go to dinner idea.
Let us show you how to whip up this flavoursome butterflied chicken (aka spatchcock chicken).
Why butterfly a chicken?
There are many reasons to learn this technique of butchery.
- Cooking a butterflied chicken is a lot quicker than roasting a whole bird. For a 1.5kg chicken it will take 45 minutes to cook in a hot oven.
- When using marinades you have more surface area to cover, on the front and back of the bird creating more flavour when it is cooked.
- Preparing the chicken this way also works perfectly on the BBQ. Just make sure to cook it slowly and turn it often to avoid burning one side.
How to butterfly a chicken?
Take your whole chicken and pat dry with a paper towel. Place onto a solid chopping board, breast side down. Using a good pair of kitchen scissors (you can progress to a sharp knife once you have mastered the technique) cut down each side of the back bone. Cut through the bones and remove the back bone in one piece.
Turn the chicken over and press firmly down on the breast to flatten out the bird. Your chicken is now butterflied and ready to go.
It really is that simple and a great technique to know, so give it a try. (If you have any questions you can drop them to us in the comment box below.)
Other recipes you might love!
If easy flavoursome dinners are your thing then our ever popular chicken paella and Fijian chicken curry are a must try! Or if you like to try new things in the kitchen our how to make sushi guide or homemade roti recipes are perfect.
For the chicken marinade:
- A large Organic chicken (approx 1.5kg/ 3.3 lbs) - we love the flavours and quality of an organic chicken, but buy the best quality one that you can afford.
- Olive oil
- Lemon - we will use the zest and juice for this recipe, yum!
- Red chilli - check the heat of your chilli by trying a little at the end and adjust to your preference.
- 10 cloves Garlic - sounds a lot but we really want that garlicky flavour to come through, plus its good for you.
- Fresh rosemary - fresh is best here but if its not available you can substitute with dried rosemary, around one heaped teaspoon.
- Salt and black pepper
Step by step instructions
- Butterfly the chicken
- Using a pestle and mortar (or mini blender) create a paste with the marinade ingredients. Then stir in the lemon juice and olive oil.
- Marinade the chicken by rubbing the mixture well into both sides of the chicken. Cover and place in the fridge to marinate. Marinade for at least 2 hours, but the longer the better. perfect for preparing in the morning or evening before and leaving covered in the fridge until ready to cook.
- Cook the (1.5kg) chicken in a pre heated oven at 190 °C / 374°F - Place in your roasting dish breast side up and roast for 45 minutes. Or until the juices run clear when the thickest part of the thigh is pierced.
- Once cooked allow to rest for 20 minutes.
Once rested, your can portion or leave whole. Serve with your favourite sides and enjoy!
Frequently asked questions
A butterflied whole chicken is a flat chicken, this is done by removing the backbone and pressing down firmly at the breast to flatten it. Also known as spatchcock chicken.
Butterflied meat cooks quicker but it also gives you a great surface area to cover with marinade, creating more flavour. It's also a great method for grilling or on the bbq.
The recommended internal temperature of a cooked chicken, using a food safe thermometer at the thickest part of the chicken is 74°C / 165°F. Also check that the juices run clear after piercing the thickest part of the thigh on a whole chicken.
Lemon and Garlic Butterflied Chicken
- 1 large Organic chicken approx 1.5kg/ 3.3 lbs
- 6 tablespoon Olive oil
- 2 Lemons zest and juice
- 1 Red chilli finely grated
- 10 cloves Garlic peeled
- 4 stalks Fresh rosemary stalks removed (See note 1)
- 1 teaspoon Salt
- 1 teaspoon Pepper
Tzatziki (optional but delicious)
- 1.5 cups Unsweetened greek yoghurt
- 2 cups Grated cucumber Skin on, Grated
- 2 tablespoon Olive oil
- bunch Chopped mint
- 1 Lemon Juice only
- 1 clove Garlic finely grated
- Good pinch of salt
To butterfly the chicken
- Pat the chicken dry with a paper towel and place onto a solid chopping board breast side down.
- Using a pair of kitchen scissors (See note 2) cut down either side of the back bone to remove in one piece. Turn the bird over and firmly press down on the breast to flatten the bird.
To create the marinade
- In a mortar and pestle add the peeled garlic cloves, red chilli, rosemary, salt and pepper and pound into a paste. Zest the skin of the lemon and add to the paste then squeeze in the juice as well, add the olive oil and give it a good stir.
- In a roasting pan place your butterflied chicken in and pour over the marinade, rubbing into the chicken on both sides. Allow to marinade covered in the fridge for minimum 2 hours, the longer the better. (Great for prepping ahead)
To cook the chicken
- Pre heat your oven to 190 °C / 374°F. Place your chicken in breast side up and roast for 45 minutes or until cooked. (See note 3)Once cooked allow to rest for 20 minutes.
- (Optional) To portion your chicken cut between the breast and leg to remove the legs, then cut the legs into the drum and thigh. Cut down the center of the breast and the cut each breast into 3-4 pieces. Use a heavy knife as you will cut through the bones.
- Take your grated cucumber and sprinkle over a pinch of salt and allow to sit for 5 minutes, this will draw out the water from the cucumber. Take a handful at a time and squeeze out the water and place into a bowl.
- Add your yoghurt, chopped mint, grated garlic and lemon juice to the cucumber, give it a good mix up. Season with a pinch of salt and place into a serving dish, drizzle over the olive oil and place in the fridge until needed.