Summertime and the livin’ is easy. Never more so than at dinner time when we fire up the barbecue and dine al fresco on the back deck. My idea of holiday cooking is to marinade chicken, beef, lamb, seafood or even vegetables and simply hand it to my boys to grill. Lately, I have been butterflying chickens and legs of lambs to a flat, even thickness and dousing them with whatever sauces, spices and herbs I have on hand. The running joke in our house is that in winter I prepare a weekly tray-bake to use up leftover root vegetables left languishing in the fridge, whilst in summer I hit a marinade frenzy to make the most of wilting herbs and bits and pieces. There’s method in my madness. Dinner is always on the table in just a little over half and hour and the heat is kept out of the kitchen whilst I prepare an easy side dish or salad.
I love grilling flattened chicken Portuguese style on the barbecue, weighted down by something heavy – in our case foil wrapped bricks. The chicken is beautifully moist and juicy with a wonderfully crisp, deeply burnished crust. Grilled on a sheet of heavy duty foil helps prevent flare ups and makes cleaning the barbecue afterwards extremely easy. After a long run of salads, I like to serve this with a simple kaffir lime infused coconut pilaf. Perfect for lazy summer entertaining when it’s far too hot to spend much time in the kitchen.
Barbecued Flattened Chicken
Serves 6 -8
2 small (1.2kg) free range chickens
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup coriander leaves and tender stems
1/2 cup mint leaves
1/2 cup flat leaf Italian parsley
4 long green spring onions,chopped
2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
1 long red chilli, roughly chopped
juice and finely grated zest of one lemon or two limes
2 teaspoons sea salt flakes
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
BUTTERFLY the chickens. For each chicken use a sharp knife or kitchen scissors to cut down either side of the backbone. Discard the backbone. Open the chicken outwards and using a sharp knife, remove the rib bones. Turn over and flatten the chicken as much as you can with the palm of your hand. When done the birds should be flat and open. You can ask a butcher to do this for you.
COMBINE the marinade ingredients in the bowl of a food processor and pulse to a rough paste. Adjust seasoning to taste.
PLACE the butterflied, flattened chickens into a wide, shallow dish. Pour over the marinade, cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight. Remove from the refrigerator 30 minutes before barbecuing.
PREHEAT barbecue to medium-high. Place a sheet of heavy-duty foil over the grill and separately wrap four bricks in double thickness sheets of foil. These will be used to weigh down the chickens as they cook.
REMOVE chickens from the marinade and place skin-side down over the foil covered grill. Place two foil-covered bricks directly on top of each chicken and barbecue undisturbed for a good 15 minutes until the skin is crisp and deeply golden brown. Remove the bricks, carefully turn the chickens over, then replace the bricks to further flatten the chickens as they cook on the other side.
BARBECUE chickens for 15 – 20 minutes on the second side. Check for doneness by piercing thickest part of each chicken with a skewer – the juices will run clear when cooked.
REMOVE from grill, loosely tent with foil and leave to rest 10 minutes before jointing and serving with a lime and coconut pilaf.
Lime And Coconut Pilaf
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 small red onion, finely chopped
1 teaspoon finely grated fresh ginger
1 garlic clove, crushed
2 cups basmati rice
2 tablespoons light soy sauce
250 ml (1 cup) coconut cream
500ml (2 cups) Campbell’s Real Stock Chicken
3 kaffir lime leaves
1 lime, to serve
PLACE vegetable oil in a large, heavy based saucepan over medium heat. Add onion, ginger and garlic. Cook, stirring, for 3 minutes until onion is soft and translucent.
ADD rice. Stir over medium heat for a minute or so to ensure the grains are separated and well coated. Add soy sauce, stirring constantly until evaporated.
ADD coconut cream, stock and kaffir lime leaves. Bring to the boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, for 15 minutes until the rice is tender and liquid absorbed. Remove from heat, discard kaffir lime leaves and fluff with a fork. Season to taste with a little more soy, if necessary.
SQUEEZE over fresh lime to serve.