A Remembrance Sunday dinner to honour our allies the Portuguese and the men who fell in the Peninsular War, a war which is sometimes forgotten, but where once again we saved Europe from a despot. Bonaparte!
Take a small chicken and spatchcock it by removing the string, cutting off the lower legs through the joint and then turning it over and cutting out the backbone with pinking shears. Open the bird out flat and cut out the triangular breastbone with the tip of a small knife, taking care not to remove too much breast meat.
Turn it skin-side up again and put a deep slash across the thighs, across the drumsticks and then the breasts, then brush the bird all over with your choice of the following marinades after thoroughly cleaning your hands, kitchen implements and all work-surfaces. Spatchcocking pictures at the end…….
Nando’s Piri-Piri Marinade, available in a number of ‘hotnesses’. It’s pretty good, but very salty, and lacks the smell and taste of a freshly blended marinade. It does however, make a very nice side sauce!
The ‘real’ thing:…enough for two whole birds and some basting……
Juice of half a lemon.
1 Tablespoon of olive oil
4 tablespoons of red wine vinegar ( or use white wine vinegar and a dash of red wine)
1 whole fresh red chilli pepper.
2 fat cloves of garlic, or 3 smaller ones.
3 heaped teaspoons of sweet paprika.
Leaves from at least 5 large sprigs of fresh thyme. ( it’s easier to pinch off the soft tips and stroke the lower leaves off downwards away from the tip)
1 level tablespoon of caster sugar.
1 tablespoon of any smoky barbeque sauce.
1 teaspoon of Schwartz Chicken Seasoning, or a pinch of salt and dried oregano.
Whizz the whole lot up in a blender and paint over the two chickens, leaving them to marinade in it for at least 4 hours, or even over-night. Spoon the marinade back over the meat occasionally, but remember it is contaminated with raw chicken now!
Cook the birds directly on the oven shelves of a hot oven, 200 Deg. C, Gas Mark 6 for 1 hour to 1 hour and ten minutes. Test in the usual way for doneness, preferably with a meat thermometer, looking for at least 88 Deg, C. It’s quite likely that both birds will be at over 95 degrees and thoroughly cooked after just an hour, but ovens do vary……..
The lower bird here in the roasting pan needed longer cooking, so I moved the pan beneath it. Next time I will give each bird its own oven shelf, swapping them over after 40 minutes or so. The marinade means they don’t stick to the shelves, nor do they make a lot of washing up…just a wipe in situ and the shelves were clean again. Phew!
Our supermarket ‘small’ birds are a bit too big here in the UK and a smaller poussin costs more money..perhaps half a small bird is enough for one person, served with chips, some cool dip and some hot sauce.
The marinade, provided it is boiling, can be poured off into a gravy jug, the fat poured away, and the remaining sauce poured over the birds. If it isn’t boiling, turn it out into a saucepan after removing the fat as above and bring it to a hard rolling boil to make sure there are no raw chicken juices in it. It tastes pretty good and looks the part!
you can guess what that means
This is rapidly becoming a favourite in the Hun tent.
An old song, written for a campaign of a hundred years earlier, but re-worded by John Tams for the Peninsular War:
Remove the fat from inside the cavity and chop off the legs at the elbow. Discard or save for stock.
Cut down one side of the backbone with pinking shears, kitchen scissors, a boning knife, or a chopper.
Starting at the other side of the p[arsons nose, remove the entire backbone.
Open the bird out and wipe away any offal or blood with a paper towel.
Cut either side of the central breastbone with the tip of a small sharp knife.
Using the tip again, cut close to the bone on either side until you can lift out the entire breastbone.
Turn the bird over and make three deep cuts each side; the thighs, drumsticks and breasts as shown.
Marinade the bird for later cooking.
You are now a master-butcher…give yourself a pat on the back and a pay rise! OK, it looks complicated, and it might take you ten minutes the first time. The second one will take you three minutes, the third two minutes🙂
Don’t forget, UK chickens are riddled with Salmonella and Campylobacter. Clean everything like there is no tomorrow…or there just might not be! Read this….” a hundred deaths a year…..”