Aromatic butterflied chicken


Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves


Appears in

A Simple Table

A Simple Table

By Michele Cranston

Published 2016

  • About

For this recipe, I’ve given instructions for cooking the chicken in the oven, but you could just as easily cook it in a covered barbecue over a low to medium heat.

This is a really delicious way to cook chicken and if I have friends over I usually double the recipe and cook two chickens. If you are time poor, you can make the paste and prepare the chicken the day before.



  • 90 g ( oz/1 bunch) coriander (cilantro)
  • 1 lemongrass stem, white part only, thinly sliced
  • 45 g ( oz/ cup) coarsely chopped macadamia nuts
  • ¼ red onion, coarsely chopped
  • 2 cm (¾ inch) piece fresh ginger, coarsely chopped
  • 2 long green chillies, coarsely chopped
  • 4 kaffir lime leaves, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon grated palm sugar (jaggery) or light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground white pepper
  • 1 x 1.6 kg (3 lb 8 oz) whole chicken
  • 1 lime, quartered


To make the paste, first rinse the bunch of coriander and then roughly chop the roots and stems, reserving the leaves for serving. Put the roots and stems in a food processor with the remaining paste ingredients and whiz until they have formed a thick paste.

Line a baking tray with baking paper. To butterfly the chicken, use a sharp knife or kitchen scissors to cut the chicken on both sides of the backbone; remove the backbone. Open the chicken out, turn it over and then flatten it by pressing down along the breastbone with the heel of your hand. Place the chicken on the prepared tray and rub the aromatic paste over the skin and flesh. Leave the chicken to marinate for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F). Roast the chicken for 50 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through. To test if the chicken is cooked, pull one of the legs away from the body—the juices that run out should be clear and not pink. Remove from the oven and squeeze some lime juice over the chicken. Cover the chicken with foil and rest for 5 minutes.

Cut the chicken into pieces and arrange on a platter with the remaining lime quarters. Scatter the coriander leaves over the top. Serve with steamed Asian greens and rice.