Peppered Spatchcocked Coquelets

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Appears in

Food of the Sun: A Fresh Look at Mediterranean Cooking

Food of the Sun

By Alastair Little and Richard Whittington

Published 1995

  • About

Coquelet is a nicer word for a baby chicken than poussin. Coquelets are cheap and the implications of this fact need to be taken on board, for there is no such thing as a free-range baby chicken. Even so, you can get a delicious result by marinating them before grilling, which will give you an excellent depth of flavour and a lovely crisp skin. Half a bird per person is sufficient for a first course, while a whole one makes a generous main dish with a salad.

If cooking on a barbecue, be careful not to start too close to the heat or you will burn the skin before the inside is cooked.


  • 4 coquelets
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2 hot red chillies
  • 3 lemons
  • 100 ml/3½ fl oz olive oil
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tbsp sea salt
  • 2 tbsp coarsely ground pepper



Cut each bird through either side of the backbone to open it out. Slam down hard with the heel of your hand to flatten the breastbone and put in a large zip-lock bag or bags.

Peel, smash and chop the garlic finely. Destalk and deseed the chillies, then shred. Juice the lemon and pour into the bag(s) together with the garlic, chilli, oil, oregano and salt and pepper. Seal, shake and leave to marinate at room temperature for 2 hours before cooking or refrigerate overnight (but remove 2 hours before cooking).


Before grilling, grind some more pepper over the birds.

Grill, turning frequently and basting with the leftover marinade. Finish with the skin side to the heat to give a good crisp finish. Leave to rest for 10—15 minutes before serving.

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