I find coquelets, small young cockerels, to be very tender and succulent when cooked this way. Spatchcocking is a preparation that lends itself to the cooking of young chickens. The backbone is removed and the breastbone flattened to give a butterfly effect. They are then very quick to cook and not at all labour-intensive. One coquelet could serve two people, but one per person is much more satisfying and generous.
Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas 4.
Break the bulbs of garlic into cloves. Peel one and reserve, leaving the skins on the others. Just cover these with cold salted water in a small pan and bring to the boil. Drain, refresh with cold water and drain again. Repeat this process twice more – this will make the garlic much more palatable.
Rub the peeled garlic clove over the birds and then liberally brush with olive oil. Season the oiled skin with salt, pepper, dried and fresh herbs, lemon juice and zest.
In a pan big enough to hold all the birds you are cooking (or do this in batches), heat the remaining olive oil and the butter, and brown the birds evenly to get them crisp all over. When all are nicely golden, roast in a large baking pan (or 2) for about 15–20 minutes, or until you can feel the meat come away from the thigh with just a little pressure.
When done, take from the oven and leave to rest in a warm place. The pan should hold a lot of juice; take this out and reserve. Add another slug of oil and knob of butter to the pan and sauté the blanched garlic until golden. This should have a crisp shell but meltingly soft inner. Add this tasty pulp to the chicken with the juices, adjust the seasoning and serve.
© 2008 Anthony Demetre. All rights reserved.