I remember making chicken marinated in yoghurt after seeing a recipe in Cuisine magazine about ten years ago. Mum and Dad, if you are reading this you may remember that you really liked this recipe and it was one of the least controversial during my ‘experimental cooking’ phase. Compared to the crumbed Stewart Family Farm lambs brains for example. Any how! This chicken is simple to cook and is really rather impressive, being in the style of the Ottolenghi recipes that are popular right now. If you can get your head around some minor butchery, you will find this chicken cooks much faster than a standard roast chicken, plus it seems to get other people more excited when they see it. Less work for more result, we can all get on board with that. Excellent served along the bulgur wheat, parsley and feta salad.
1 Whole Chicken
Yoghurt, 3 generous dessertspoons
Tahini, 1 tablespoon
Zest and juice of half a lemon
Cumin, 1 teaspoon
Turmeric, 1 teaspoon
Salt, 1 teaspoon
Whatever fresh herbs you have – I used 2 teaspoons of chopped basil and parsley, you can also use coriander, oregano, chives or tarragon
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees.
First make the yoghurt marinade by stirring all the ingredients together in a bowl. Set aside, now deal with the chicken.
Take a whole chicken and cut the backbone out of it, so you can then press the meat down to flatten the chicken on an oven tray. I do this because it cooks faster and it’s easier to get the meat off it once it’s cooked this way. It also enables you to spread the marinade over in a thick layer without it dripping down the sides.
To do this, take a sharp knife or some strong kitchen scissors and find the opening of the neck of the chicken. You can see that one side of the chicken is the plump breast meat and the other side is the bony and less meaty back. What you need to do is firmly cut down either side of the backbone, slicing through the ribs until you get down to the little knobby tail at the bottom. You will be slicing quite close to the thigh meat, but stay close to the backbone so you don’t cut off the meat from the upper thigh, which you want to leave on for roasting. Once you have cut the chicken in half, take the knife and cut down the other side so the backbone comes away entirely. I then freeze the piece for soup or for making chicken stock.
Lift the chicken onto an oven tray (you may want to put some paper down onto the oven tray as it will make the clean up easier) and press firmly down to flatten the chicken. Thickly spread the marinade over the whole chicken. As the chicken bakes, the yoghurt will do double duty to keep the chicken moist and also create a delicious flavour. Cook the chicken for 45 minutes, or until the juices run clear in the leg meat. To check this, stick the sharp point of a knife into the thigh meat, pull it down and see if there is any visibly red juice running out.
I find this chicken very easy to carve compared to a regular roasted chicken. Because the chicken is flat on the oven tray, it makes it simple to cut the legs and breasts off in pieces or you can just tear the meat away in chunks. Either way, the chicken is stable and the marinade stays in place. Best served on a large platter with the bulgur wheat salad on the side, and perhaps some hummus also. To quote a dear friend who knows exactly who she is… “I would love to get my laughing chops around that.”
45 minutes later…