Spatchcock baby chicken with garlic and herbs

Cook Paul Merrett's juicy little chickens marinated with a fragrant mix of thyme, sage, rosemary, chives, lemon and garlic
By Paul Merrett
Spatchcock baby chicken with garlic and herbs
  • Rating:
  • Serves: 2
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Prep Time:
  • Effort: medium


  • 2 poussins
  • 3 sprigs thyme
  • 2 sprigs sage
  • 2 sprigs rosemary
  • 1 handful chives
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 lemon
  • pinch dried red chilli flakes
  • splash olive oil


1. To spatchcock the poussin: If the bird is trussed, remove the string tying the legs together. Cut off the flap of skin at the neck, then cut off the ends of the legs at the joints.

2. Remove the backbone from the bird by carefully pushing a knife into the bottom-end of the bird until you see the point of the knife emerge at the neck. Push the knife down against one side of the spine, cutting through the rib cage.

3. Open up the bird and cut away the spine at the other side.

4. Place the bird, skin-side down, onto the chopping board. Break the breast bone by hitting it with your hand (this will flatten the bird so that it grills more easily).

5. Turn in the legs of the bird so that it looks like it's cross-legged. Make a hole in the loose skin connecting the legs of the bird to its body. Hook the ends of the legs into these holes. Tuck the wings under the body of the bird.

6. Chop the herbs and add to a bowl. Chop the garlic and zest the lemon, adding the juice of 1/3 of it, mixing with the herbs in the bowl. Season with cracked black pepper and chilli flakes and bring the mixture together with a good glug of olive oil.

7. Rub the chickens all over with the herb mix and leave for at least an hour to marinate.

8. Preheat an oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6. Once the chicken is ready to cook heat a ribbed griddle pan and cook the chicken skin side down until lightly charred and coloured. Turn over, reducing the heat of the griddle and continue to cook for a minute or two until coloured all over.

9. Transfer to an oven tray and finish cooking in the preheated oven until cooked through about 15 minutes depending on how long you griddled if for.

10. Once the birds are cooked remove and rest for a few minutes before serving, one per person.

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