Spatchcocked Birds

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  • Level: Easy
  • Total: 1 day 55 min
  • Prep: 20 min
  • Inactive: 1 day
  • Cook: 35 min
  • Yield: 7 birds
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1 spatchcocked or butterflied chicken

For the 1 marinated chicken:

2 tablespoons black peppercorns, lightly crushed in mortar and pestle

Generous 1/3 cup olive oil (not extra-virgin)

2 cloves garlic, peeled and bruised

For sprinkling over the 1 chicken:

Maldon or other sea salt

Handful fresh parsley leaves, chopped

2 spatchcocked or butterflied poussins or Cornish game hens

For the 2 marinated hens:

2 limes, juiced

2 tablespoons coriander seeds

Generous 1/3 cup peanut or vegetable oil

Good grinding black pepper

For the 4 marinated quails:

1 bunch scallions, finely sliced

Generous 1/3 cup vegetable oil

Dash toasted sesame oil

3/4 -inch chunk fresh ginger, unpeeled and roughly chopped

1 tablespoon rice vinegar

1 tablespoon soy sauce

For sprinkling over the 4 quails:

Maldon or other sea salt

Handful fresh parsley leaves, chopped

1 bunch fresh cilantro, leaves chopped


  1. Set each bird in their respective marinade in a dish into which they fit snugly, cover with plastic wrap and leave in the refrigerator, preferably overnight or for 24 hours, though even a couple of hours would have an effect.
  2. When the grill is good and hot, lift the birds out of their marinade and cook until the flesh has lost all raw pinkness but is still tender within and the skin is crisp and burnished and blistered. It's hard to be precise about times, since grills differ even more than ovens do, but on my grill - a gas-fired Outdoor Chef, which I love to distraction and, since it has a lid, I use even in the winter rain - the chicken takes about 35 minutes, the Cornish hens 15 and the quail about 7.
  3. Along with sea salt, sprinkle freshly chopped parsley over the chicken and cilantro over the hens and quail, or use whatever herb seems right for the marinades you've concocted.