Food & Drink

Roasted Spatchcock with Jammy Tomatoes

Spatchcock is both a noun and a verb. In Australia, it refers to a small, young chicken. In other parts of the world a spatchcock is called a poussin or spring chicken. Young chickens have incredibly tender meat and less fat than larger chickens, they’re also quicker to cook. Spatchcocking (or butterflying) is also the process of removing the backbone of a whole chicken so it can splay flat on a roasting tray. The recipe I am sharing today is essentially spatchcocked spatchcock!
I love butterflied chicken. It cooks more evenly and quickly as it’s on a level surface so the breast and thigh meat are done at the same time. It’s also easier to marinade all round so the flavours are more evenly distributed through the chicken. The easiest way to achieve a butterflied chicken is simply to ask your butcher!
There is nothing quite like a simple homemade roast on Christmas day. There are a million and one ways to cook a chicken, but a foolproof one-pan recipe will be your saving grace this busy holiday season. You want an easy hands-off approach that involves nothing more than the simple assembly of ingredients. My roast recipe combines the appetisingly fragrant flavours of fennel seeds and pepper with melted garlic herb butter, which is basted all over the bird as it cooks. The butter melts into the tomatoes creating a delicious jammy accompaniment to your chicken. It’s full of flavour, easy to re-create and will look sensational on your table on Christmas day. What’s more, this recipe can be adapted to suit your own tastes. Try stuffing the chicken with different garden herbs (parsley, rosemary, marjoram and basil will all work as well as oregano) or rub the skin with your favourite spices if fennel seeds don’t fit your flavour profile.
The simple truth is if you smother a high-quality chicken with enough salt, fat and spices, stuff it with herbs and roast it just long enough so it is cooked all the way through the result will be sensational. That’s because roast chicken is a meal you can always count on, especially during holiday season!

- Rey Vakili 



2 spatchcock chicken (about 500g each), butterflied (you can ask the butcher to do this for you!) (Craig Cook’s The Natural butcher)
8 anchovy fillets, roughly chopped (Simon Johnson)
500 grams (2 punnets) cherry tomatoes on vine, halved or whole
1 whole garlic bulb, cut in half
1 tablespoon fennel seeds, roughly chopped
1 bunch fresh oregano
1 lemon
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
Salt and Pepper to season

Herby garlic butter marinade
50 grams butter
2 garlic cloves, minced
¼ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons freshly chopped parsley


  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius
  2. Rinse your chicken and pat dry
  3. Season chicken generously with salt and pepper. If you can do this in advance even better.
  4. Begin by preparing your herby garlic butter marinade. In a small mixing bowl add your minced garlic, salt and two tablespoons of finely chopped parsley. Add 50 grams of softened butter and mash together. Set aside.
  5. In a large roasting dish lightly drizzle some extra virgin olive oil on your base. Place your spatchcock chicken in the middle of the tray breast side up. Place one or two sprigs of oregano under each chicken.
  6. Drizzle olive oil lightly over the top and sprinkle fennel seeds generously over each chook.
  7. Scatter cherry tomatoes, halved garlic bulb and anchovies around the roast.
  8. Now rub some of your garlic herb butter over the breast of the chicken and scatter the remainder around the tomatoes.
  9. Finally squeeze half a lemon all over your dish and cut the other half into disks and scatter around.
  10. Roast the baby chicken for about 1 hour and 20 minutes in total until golden brown. Check after one hour and give the tomatoes a stir if necessary. Your anchovies will have dissolved and the tomatoes with be jammy and shrivelled.
  11. Remove from oven and add 1 or 2 tablespoons of red wine vinegar to the tomatoes. Allow to rest for 10 minutes before plating.