Roast Spatchcocked Lemon Chicken


Roast Chicken is on the menu, and here I have chosen this recipe for few reasons. Firstly because it is one of the most eaten white meat in many household, secondly this recipe can be cooked in many ways – which you will see as you read through. This is what I call one recipe with several options to suit individual taste and use of different method of cooking depending on the cooking appliances/facilities you have available and your mood……as well as the weather and season you may be enjoying.  

Roast chicken is a very comforting meal, especially when it can be made in very little time. Have you heard of a Spatchcock chicken, well for those who don’t know it’s a name given to a flattened chicken whereby a whole chicken is cut in the middle into a butterfly shape.

Nothing complicated here this can be done by using a pair of kitchen scissors, cut in the middle and casually flatten the chicken. The technique of Spatchcocking requires splitting and flattening the chicken exposing the chicken surface area including the skin which is a real bonus of having more crispy chicken skins to enjoy.

In doing so the cooking /roasting time is much quicker with very little effort. The other nice thing about it you can roast a lovely whole chicken cooked to perfection on the barbecue, without any hassle.

If time allows you can leave the marinating chicken in the fridge overnight or even a few hours before, making a much tender and well flavoured roast chicken.

While cooking a whole chicken isn’t always practical, cooking chicken legs is a definitely easy option perfect for a midweek roast dinner. So here by using the same recipe, you can use make this dish with large chicken portions (as illustrated in some of the pictures)

Ingredients Serves 6-8

  • One whole free-range chicken
  • 1 whole lemon – thinly sliced
  • Juice & zest of one whole lemon
  • 4-6 shallots – cut into quarters
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp ground cloves
  • Ground ginger & garlic
  • Few curry leaves – finely chopped (optional)
  • Sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 fresh red chilli, finely chopped or alternatively 1-2 tsp chilli powder (I use Kashmiri powder
  • Olive oil
  • 1 Tbs margarine or butter
  • Seasoning soy sauce
  • Drizzle of clear honey


  1. Start by preparing the marinade – In a small bowl mix all the dry spice ingredients followed by a good drizzle of olive oil, and the rest of the wet ingredients, give it a good mix and set aside.
  2. Butterfly chicken by placing breast side down and using heavy-duty kitchen scissors or shears to cut along both sides of backbone, turn chicken over and open it, press gently to flatten it. Using a sharp knife slash into the chicken thigh (this is optional). This will help the chicken to cook quicker, and enable the flavours/seasoning to penetrate right into meat.
  3. A little tip, using your finger gently run under the chicken skin in such a way to separate the skin from the chicken. In doing this I like to rub the spice mix in this cavity rather than rubbing the spices all over the skin surface – this gives the chicken a more flavorsome taste without burning the spices leaving you with crispy spicy chicken skin. 20141008_201013
  4. Rub the prepared marinade spice inside and under the skin cavity and paint rest of the marinade on surface, placing the lemon slices around.
  5. It is best to marinate the chicken beforehand then place in a dish cover with cling film and leave to marinate overnight of few hours before. When ready to cook take the chicken out of the fridge to come to room temperature.

    Chicken legs

    Chicken legs

  6. If cooking in the oven, preheat it to 200°C. Place the chicken skin side up in a roasting dish and roast for 45 minutes at 200°C. Baste the chicken through, scatter the shallots around in the baking tray reduce oven temperature to 180°C and cook for another 30minutes until the chicken skin is crisp and the meat almost falling off the bone.
  7. Transfer chicken to a carving board, and leave to rest 10 minutes. Cut chicken into portions, and serve with roasted vegetable. I served mine with tender stem green baby broccoli and roast vegetables. 20141105_201433 

Other Cooking Options:

  1. If cooking on the BBQ, cook for 10 minutes on the grill skin down, turn regularly until thoroughly cooked.
  2. If cooking on a skillet, add a drizzle of oil on a hot skillet. On high heat start by sealing the whole chicken skin, lower the heat to medium and using a tong keep moving the chicken side to side every so often until thoroughly and evenly cooked. Add the shallots halfway and cook until golden brown.  20151121_201009

Brinda’s Note: Whichever cooking method you choose, leave the chicken to rest for about 10 minutes, before carving into portions and serve.