This is a great way to find yourself with a plateful of succulent, crisp-skinned, self-hot-saucing chicken. There’s very little to it, though you do need a source of proper Calabrian ’nduja – which is basically 50 per cent pork fat and 50 per cent fruity chilli peppers – in part for the taste, though also because it squishes and spreads so easily between the flesh and skin of a pre-roasted chicken. It’s also really truly best if you can buy a slow-grown, free-range chicken: the meat is juicier and more flavoursome, and the skin thicker and better for crisping up (and less likely to tear as you manoeuvre it). Serve with fries, green salad and aioli.
Ed Smith’s Crave cookbook is out now.
’Nduja Spatchcock Chicken
- 1 chicken, between 1.4–2kg (3lb 2oz–4lb 8oz)
- 60 g (2 1⁄4 oz) Calabrian ’nduja, at room temperature
- 1 tbsp neutral cooking oil
- 2 tsp flaky sea salt
- 4 tbsp water
- Heat the oven to 230°C/210°C fan/450°F.
- Spatchcock the chicken by using sturdy scissors to cut the spine out. Turn the bird over and set it on a baking sheet (not a high-sided roasting tin), pressing firmly down on the breast bone to flatten it. Also remove the wishbone as this makes it much easier to portion once cooked (you could ask a butcher to do all of this if you prefer).
- Use one or two fingers to separate the skin from the flesh of the breasts. Also jiggle around at the base of the thighs until you find a gap, and separate the skin from the flesh there too. Divide the ’nduja between the various pockets, pushing the cured meat up as far as you can under the skin with your fingers, then pressing down on top of the skin to squelch and spread it around. Rub a little cooking oil over the skin, then sprinkle the couple of teaspoons of salt on top of that.
- Slide the baking sheet into the oven towards the top. Roast for 45 minutes without interruption (40 minutes if the chicken is closer to 1.4kg/3lb 2oz, or 50 minutes if 1.8–2kg/4lb–4lb 8oz).
- At the end of the cooking period, the chicken’s skin should be golden and crisp. Remove from the oven, transfer to a board or warm dish to rest for 10 minutes, then pour the water into the baking sheet and whisk it around the roasting gubbins to deglaze it, creating a sauce that retains all the delicious oils, heat and flavour.
- After resting, pull the legs away from the chicken and separate the thighs from the drumsticks. Cut the breasts off the carcass too, split them in half across their width and arrange everything on a warmed platter. Reheat the pan of deglazed juices for a minute then pour over the top of the chicken pieces, along with any additional resting juices. Ensure everyone gets a good helping of spicy, devil-red juices from the bottom of the pan.