Best food, 120pp.
by The Australian Women’s Weekly
ACP Books, Sydney, 2002
Cooking on page 32
My friends, Ginny and Tim, moved to Queensland last month and, to help them cut down on the belongings they needed to pack, I conned them into giving me four of their cookbooks. I promised to cook from all four and then release them into the wild.
I’m doing exactly that with this first one. Graeme, who lives at our house when we travel, is housesitting on Flinders Island, off the coast of Tasmania. He’s a novice cook so as soon as he spotted this on the dining room table, he asked if he could take it with him. Sure, I said, and don’t bring it back.
So Graeme and the book are now on Flinders Island. But before it went, I ‘captured’ the recipe on page 32.
Spatchcocks with prosciutto and herb butter
50g butter, softened
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh basil
4 x 500g spatchcocks
12 sprigs fresh thyme
4 slices prosciutto (60g)
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
Preheat oven to hot.
Combine butter, garlic and herbs in small bowl.
Wash spatchcocks under cold water; pat dry with absorbent paper. Loosen skin of spatchcock by sliding fingers between skin and meat at neck joint; push an eighth of the herb butter under skin on spatchcock breast and spread evenly. Place one thyme sprig inside cavity; tie legs together with kitchen string. Wrap prosciutto around spatchcock; secure with toothpick. Repeat with remaining spatchcocks.
Place spatchcocks in large deep baking dish; drizzle with combined oil and juice. Roast, uncovered, in hot oven 30 minutes. Brush spatchcocks with pan juices; top spatchcocks with remaining thyme sprigs. Roast, uncovered, in hot oven about 20 minutes or until spatchcocks are browned and cooked through.
Serve spatchcocks topped with remaining herb butter. Serves 4.
How it played out
This the first time I ever cooked with spatchcock AND the first time I ever ate it. So I saved the recipe for a special meal—an out-of-town friend was coming to stay the night.
I bought three 500-gram spatchcocks for about $9 each (definitely not a cheap bird), and proceeded to make the recipe as written. The only tricky part was trying to loosen the skin so I could insert the herb butter. I didn’t want to tear the skin, so I went with a very light hand. That meant there wasn’t much butter under the skin, and it certainly wasn’t spread evenly.
Almost everything else went according to plan. I didn’t have fresh basil, so used some from a tube—handy to have in the fridge. Also, the slices of Australian prosciutto weren’t quite long enough for me to anchor them with a toothpick, so I just tucked them under the bird.
Served with mashed potatoes, homemade gravy and another page-32 recipe—escalavida (Spanish roasted vegetables)—that gets made here frequently.
This was the moistest and most flavoursome poultry I have ever made. It was ridiculously delicious and ridiculously easy to make, except for the wrestle to get butter under the skin.
I will certainly make this again, and save it for times when I especially want to impress—or when spatchcocks are on sale. 🙂
Poultry is a common protein in many of the places we travelled. You can check out what a few Indonesian fellows did with 20 kilos of chicken.