Capón a la Parrilla

Barbecued Spatchcock

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IT’S HARD TO FIND CHICKEN IN A SPANISH RESTAURANT, AS RESTAURANTS ARE PLACES WHERE PEOPLE GO TO ESCAPE THE ORDINARINESS OF HOME. THEY WANT A TOUCH OF LUXURY, WITH WAITERS AND DISHWASHERS. CHICKEN IS SO CLOSELY ASSOCIATED WITH HOME, HOME COOKING AND EVEN POVERTY THAT IT DOESN’T OFTEN MAKE IT ONTO THE RESTAURANT MENU: THE SPANISH ARE MORE LIKELY TO EAT QUAIL, PARTRIDGE OR PHEASANT. SPATCHCOCK (POUSSIN) IS JUST A NAME FOR LITTLE CHICKENS, AND THIS IS A QUICK DISH TO DO OVER THE COALS OR A BARBECUE. THEY’RE AVAILABLE FROM GOOD POULTRY SUPPLIERS. YOU CAN ALSO MAKE THIS DISH WITH QUAIL — SIMPLY REDUCE THE COOKING TIME.

Ingredients

  • 4 spatchcocks
  • 8 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 1 bunch of thyme, roughly chopped
  • 100 ml ( fl oz) extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • ½teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Method

Rinse the birds and pat dry with paper towel. Using a pair of kitchen scissors, remove the spine by cutting along both sides of it from the tail to the neck. Discard or keep for stock. Trim away the first two joints of the wings. Spread the legs and remove the thigh bone, then place the spatchcocks on a work surface, skin side up. Press down to flatten.

Combine the remaining ingredients in a shallow tray or container. Add the birds and massage the marinade all over, then lay the birds flat and cover with more marinade. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight, or for at least 2 hours.

Heat your coals to a temperature where you can only hold your hand 15 cm (6 inches) above them for no more than 3 seconds. Alternatively, heat the flame grill on a barbecue to high. Place the spatchcocks in two lightly oiled grilling racks and cook, skin side down, for 6 minutes, seasoning as you go. Turn and cook the other side for 6 minutes, seasoning again.

Turn the spatchcock again and grill, skin side down, for a final 4 minutes. Remove from the heat and rest in a warm place for 8 minutes before serving.