… the sun is shining, it’s actually hot, the bizarre ‘there’s-no-winter-oh-here’s-winter-oh-now-it’s-summer-oh-wait-no-it’s-winter-again’ madness is, we hope, over and we can finally start planning for a regular UK summer of barbecuing beneath umbrellas! I love May in the UK. Even though I protest that October is my favourite month there’s something about May in the UK. Particularly in the countryside. It’s all just blossoming so incredibly beautifully; the apple, pear and hawthorne trees look like fireworks of pink and red and white with their explosions of delicate flowers, the rape oil seed is in full technicolour yellow so the fields look like a proper patchwork quilt of acid green, yellow and brown and the garden and Belleau Cottage is the promise of a stunning summer. You can just tell that there’s a riot going on beneath the surface waiting for the bloom of June.
may day marmalade spatchcock chicken
as everyone reading in the UK will know, we’ve been very lucky this long weekend with this glorious sunshine and warm weather and no doubt the male population of the country have been raring to stoke those barbecues and burn some meat. You’ll know from previous posts that i’m really not that bothered by the whole barbecue thing… don’t get me wrong, I love some chargrilled cooking I just don’t like the faff… and it’s a UK-based, very biased faff that I can’t stand. I get it if you’re in a country where the summer is guaranteed and outdoor living is a way of life with your outdoor grill a permanent fixture on a raised deck or patio somewhere but here in the UK, if you’re from my ‘pre-gas-grill’ generation then you’re talking crappy little rusting metal barbecues that get used once a year and need de-greasing and de-cobwebbing prior to use… a trip to the local petrol station to pick up a bag of coal… the faff of lighting the coal and then the long tedious wait for the coals to be ‘ready’ only for it to rain the moment you begin to cook whilst everyone else is drunk on pimms and inside. Of course I have friends who have constructed brilliant homes for their ‘ready-at-the-flick-of-a-switch’ barbecues and I envy them their outdoor dining ambience but I would much rather cook indoors, in the kitchen I paid a fucking fortune for and then, shock-horror, take the food outside to eat it!
this marmalade chicken is great for that… it’s relatively quick to make and can be finished on the barbecue if you want that char-grilled flavour to come through. It’s sweet and sticky and packed with flavour and perfect for a warm early-summer evening al-fresco with a bottle of chilled sauvignon blanc…
- 1 free-range chicken – I used a 1.7kg chicken (i’d call this large – good for 4 humans)
- 1 bunch spring onions – roughly chopped
- 2 sticks celery – chopped
- 1 carrot – roughly chopped
- 4 cloves garlic
- 7 stalks of asparagus
- 4 tablespoons best marmalade
pre-heat your oven to 180C – i’m using my shallow cast-iron casserole dish with a lid but a roasting tin or any large oven-proof dish will work.
place all your prepared veg along with some fresh spring herbs and a little olive oil and seasoning, into your cooking dish. Mix them around so they’re all coated with herbs and oil (your hands are the best utensil for this) and set aside.
now spatchcock your the chicken… it’s very simple to do and if you haven’t done it before here’s an easy-to-follow video
now place the spatchcocked chicken on top of your vegetables and rub the whole chicken with the marmalade, get into all the crevices, front and back, then place the chicken back on top of the vegetables, skin side up. Season well and drizzle with a little oil, place the lid on your pot if you have one or cover tightly with foil, then whack in the oven for 45 minutes.
after 45 mins, take the chicken out of the oven, remove the lid or foil, turn the chicken over and roast back in the oven for another 10 minutes, then turn the chicken back over to skin-side-up and roast for a final 10 mins to get the chicken golden – if you have a barbecue going then whack the chicken onto the hot grill for 5 mins to get that perfect chargrilled look or if you don’t then turn the oven up to 200 for that final 10 mins to blacken the chicken slightly.
eat and of course, enjoy!