Spatchcocked Chicken – The heat is off.

Lime and Coriander Chicken (2 of 10)Glen Frey did a great job with ‘The Heat Is On’. I find it hard to imagine that I could raise any enthusiasm for the opposite. Imagine a song called ‘The Heat Is Off’. I had received my instructions from Texas (more of that here) and I was going to cook a pretty tongue melting chili concoction for my invited family guests. They were going to enjoy one of the hottest dishes I have ever created. It was going to be hot and great. For sure, the heat was on! That was until I got an early morning call from my mother. 

Mum was telling me about the Norwegian branch of the family, who were dining with us that evening.“You know that they don’t like ‘hot’ things. Too much chili will cause them problems.” With those few words, my excellent menu went out the window. You may think me spineless for giving up my plan but, we Irish think first of our guests. I had to improvise and do something else with the chicken. I had to do it without thought of chili. The first thing I did was cut the backbone out of the chicken. That’s a  spineless start. That’s how my opening picture above is not of mixed chilis and other good things as I had planned. Sorry about that. The second picture is not much better. However, it is instructional.

Chicken with the backbone removed. Not very pleasant.

Chicken with the spine removed. Spineless when it comes to hot chili cooking?

I had better let you know what I am doing. This time, it’s Coriander and Lime Chicken. The ingredients include;

  • 1 free range chicken 
  • 3 red onions
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 3 limes
  • 1 tablespoon of mixed peppercorns
  • 1 big handful of coriander, including the stalks
The majority of the ingredients are included in the shot.

The majority of the ingredients are included in the shot.

Finish spatchcocking the chicken by pressing down on the breast of the bird once the backbone is removed.

One big squashing does the trick. Ignore the sounds of cracking bones.

One big squashing does the trick. Ignore the sound of cracking bones.

When it is flattened, skewer it diagonally to hold things together. Chop the onion, zest one of the limes.

Side note of stupidity: Eldest daughter and boyfriend have decided to turn ‘Spatchcock’ into a term of abuse. The love it as calling somebody a ‘silly spatchcock’ sounds very insulting. They assure me it only refers to them being a “spineless chicken”. Yeah, right.

There is no need of this shot except it looks nice. I like the colours.

There is no need of this shot except it looks nice. I like the colours.

Next blitz the onions in a food processor. Then grind the peppercorns and garlic in a pestel and mortar.

I love preparing spices this way. It connects one with the food.

I love preparing spices this way. It connects one with the food.

Mix this with the onion, juice of two limes and zest of one.

Another pointless picture. Still, I like the layers of colour.

Another pointless picture. Still, I like the layers of colour.

Rub this all over the chicken and leave it in the fridge for a few hours.

After a few hours, throw it (not literally) on the barbecue.

After a few hours, throw it (not literally) on the barbecue, breast side up.

The barbecue should be well heated and turned down to minimum. Close the lid and go and do something else for 20 minutes. Return and turn the chicken over. The skewers earn their keep at this stage.

It is starting to look pretty tasty at this stage. But wait, there's more...

It is starting to look pretty tasty at this stage. But wait, there’s more…

After another fifteen to twenty minutes, turn it again and squeeze the juice of the remaining lime over the chicken.

This adds some extra flavour as does the next step.

This adds some extra flavour as does the next step.

Roughly chop the coriander and sprinkle it on top of the chicken. Close the lid on the barbecue, turn it off and let the coriander wilt for ten minutes.

This looks like a lot of coriander. It is a lot of coriander.

This looks like a lot of coriander. It is a lot of coriander.

Take it off and let it rest for a few minutes before chopping it into generous bite sized pieces.

The big knife is a big help here.

The big knife is a big help here.

I served it with various salad ingredients and a nice guacamole. Sadly, the hoard were hungry and I only got a chance to shoot one picture of the sliced chicken.

Truly delicious chicken pieces, infused with the flavours of lime and coriander.

Truly delicious chicken pieces, infused with the flavours of lime and coriander.

One last thing. My barbecue goes down to a fairly low heat. With that in mind, if you are doing this, you need to ensure that the chicken is cooked through but not overcooked. You are on your own with that one. I did get a chance to fire things up with the chilis later in our Texas Chili Challenge but, we had to keep things a little cooler for the Northerners with Coriander and Lime Chicken. Delicious. Even those Texas Chiliheads would like it, I’m sure.


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Latest comments
  • I like the assertive way you pressed down on that chicken breast!

    • Thanks Rosemary. One needs to show who is boss occasionally. Even if it is a dead chicken.

  • It was delicious

  • I can not think of a better way to cook and serve a whole chicken. Everything from the marinade, the skewering, the coriander and the generous bite size pieces…grand.

    • Excellent. The coriander and lime is a lovely combination with the chicken.

  • Looks amazing! Very beautifully done! I love those big bite size pieces as well. It all looks so flavorful! 🙂

    • Thanks for that. We enjoyed it. Good chicken takes on those flavours very well.

  • You did it like a Boss ! You always do !
    Sending you a truckload of love for this gorgeous post which made my morning 🙂

    • Nusrat, you are always so positive in your comments. I really appreciate it.

  • I’d prefer the hot version over all that coriander/cilantro 😉 Love the technique of spatchcocking the chicken. Another great post, Conor!

    • Thanks Stefan, Some suggest using a kitchen scissors to do the cutting. Far less fun and a lot more difficult.

  • Don’t feel bad, not everyone has the chilli fever. Changing your menu for your guests makes you a good host, not a spineless chicken. Plus, I love me a spineless chicken!

    • So easy and very flavourful. Go on and give it a go.

  • I’m reminded of ‘Alien’ looking at the backbone removal photo. That is really quite a good shot!

    • Hopefully I won’t offend too many with it. Can’t make omelet without cracking eggs, if you will pardon the analogy.

      • Good to read we are on the same page, as our American cousins would say. Although more yours that mine, given you’re ever-so-slightly closer than me…

        • Nearer Boston than Berlin…

          • Just one wrong turn in Normandy and I’d be singing this right now

  • Damn poor chicken – first it gets the chop, then it gets the fist… Looks delicious though. I love the way you cut it up at the end actually.

    • Thanks Nick. I always obsess about it being cooked through but not overcooked. The truth comes out at the chopping stage.

      • Indeed! I always find people are prone to overcooking chicken because of the stigma attached to a raw bird…

  • those hens in your header look a little worried 🙂 I love everything with cilantro, with or without heat and therefore I think I would really enjoy this dish!

    • It’s simple (like myself) and delicious. Worth doing, if you can bear the spine splitting stuff.

  • Great idea putting the coriander(cilantro) on the chicken in the grill like that. I will be trying that in future dishes.

  • A great way to prepare chicken, Conor, and yours looks grilled to perfection. In fact, I like it so much that I’ve written a guest post that’s scheduled for tomorrow that is similar in that the chicken is spatchcocked, though I didn’t refer to it as such. I read you reference to the technique last week and steered clear of the word in my post. Shades of risotto all over again! 🙂

    • Sadly true John, I sometimes find myself either rushing a post or putting it back into the drawer based on what’s going on out there. Still, all good fun.

  • It may not have had the heat of your chili chicken but I know it was delicious. Great job!

    • Thanks Karen. A simple dish, easily prepared and appreciated by the Norwegians. That was a result.

  • Absolutely love the recipe: am a coriander and lime gal from way back! And am naturally laughing about ‘Springtime for Hitler’ – gad how many years back did we sing that!! But what on earth is wrong with calling someone a ‘silly spatchcock’ . . . no worse than ‘silly sausage’ or ‘oh you monkeyface’! [the last I use quite regularly!!] You never say such to people you dislike, only to those with whom you are delightfully comfortable 🙂 !

    • Have just been back to ‘The Producers’!! – after all these years: did Gene Wilder miss even one little piece of sarcasm and irony in that absolutely brilliant piece of ‘taking ’em down’, pretzels, Wagner, camp and all 😀 !

      • It is one hilarious film. How did we start talking about chicken and end up on Mel Brooks?

        • As long as we did and had a laugh and remembered . . .

    • Strangely, eldest daughter calls the dog ‘monkeyface’ on occasion.

  • Unlike your chicken, I don’t think you’re spineless. You are simply a very accommodating host, and by offering a chicken that looks this delicious, a most considerate host at that. Love the combination of herbs, onions and zest. And that grilling is just perfect. I can’t wait for the day I’m invited over.

    • Too kind Tommy. Too kind indeed. The welcome mat is out for you all the time. Just let us know when you are in this part of the world and we will fire up the BBQ.

  • That looks great, coriander and lime is a nice flavour combo with chicken.
    The zesting shot makes the post, glad you included it.

    • Thanks for that. I like the shot but there is a ‘speed shadow’ on the drop of lime. If I had been more careful, it would have not had that. I am getting anal…

  • I’ve only recently tarting cooking chicken like this and I’m not sure why it’s taken me so long. Beautiful with some citrus and spice. I actually had a similar post lined up, but my wife insisted I exclude the ‘surgical’ photos, against my better judgement… 😉

    • If in doubt, put it in. I know some people are not impressed with the more bloody process photos but that’s what one has to do to get the nice food. I look forward to yours.

  • The idea of putting a layer, large one, of coriander while still in the grill is awesome. The whole recipe is awesome really! A change from the way we do it with lemon, parsley and garlic here (argentina). I´m still chuckling at your side note… oh, and there are no pointless pictures, who knows what first timer will read this who doesn´t know what a mortar is.

    • Thanks Paula for your kind comments. Mortar can be three things here, that thing one puts the spices in, cement and a hat worn by graduates.

  • I hardly buy a whole chicken but your bossy way has convinced me to get one 🙂 What a lovely recipe and you’ve made it to perfection.

    Love that lemon and red onion photo.

  • LOVE that second shot! Great recipe. I also love the idea of the skewers to prevent the chicken from popping up when it cooks, which mine did in my old spatchcocking post. I probably hadn’t pressed on it enough, but the skewers are the perfect answer!

    • Thanks Mimi. I used the approach on my part of Richard McGary’s Chili Challenge. All good fun.

  • Looks really good! I like the lime on the chicken and the cilantro too! The smash down on the chicken…thrilling! And I like the way you cut the chicken into bits…Best to you Conor! – B

  • Mmmm…so juicy! Looks just divine! I made a similar chicken for Father’s Day, different spices and stuff. Will have to give this one a try next time.

  • Conor, that looks unbelievably delicious. I love lime and coriander and the chicken looks perfectly cooked. Well done.
    Now, if you want to try a variation on this, add some of the ancho chile rub (probably 3 – 4 Tbsp) to it. Chiles, lime and coriander are a match made in heaven and the ancho rub has very little heat. Of course, if you want to heat it up, use the XX Hot Sandia chiles. 🙂

    • My friend from Australia call e to us on Friday. He brought som Ghost Chilis. They were so hot, they made my eyes water and caused coughing fits just by standing near them. Eldest daughter found her throat closing over after she tasted it. I think I’ll pass on using them in any sandwiches.

      • I haven’t tried a ghost chile an never will. I have eaten habaneros and they can be very, very hot to the point they are not enjoyable. Ghost chiles are waaayyyyy hotter than habaneros. The natives where they originate make a paste with them and dip the ends of wooden fence stakes in it to keep elephants out of areas. Anything that deters an elephant is not meant to be eaten. 😮

      • Conor, I made this for dinner 2 night ago. It was delicious. Of course, mine was not nearly so gruesome. Also, given my nature, it had a little chile added to the ingredients. 🙂 Post forthcoming.

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