Spicy Spatchcocked Chicken with Cous Cous Salad

Adam Roberts
  • Yield: 4 to 6 servings


2 whole 4-pound chickens
1 yellow onion (optional)
1 carrot (optional)
1 stalk celery (optional)
A few black peppercorns
2tablespoons coriander seeds
2tablespoons fennel seeds
2tablespoons cumin seeds
1/4cup kosher salt (plus more, as necessary)
1tablespoon smoked paprika
2cups cous cous
1/4cup golden raisins
1/4 red onion, finely chopped
1/4cup chopped parsley
1/4cup sliced almonds, toasted until fragrant
Olive oil (to taste)
White wine vinegar (to taste)


  1. Cut the backbones out of your chickens and add them to a pot. Cover with cold water by several inches and, if you want an extra flavorful stock, add the onion, carrot and celery, plus a few black peppercorns. Bring the water up to an active simmer and simmer for at least an hour, preferably three, until you have a golden stock. Strain and set aside.
  2. On a large cookie sheet, lay down a piece of aluminum foil. Flatten your chickens on the sheet (you should hear a cracking sound as you do so) with the inside of the chickens’ cavity down on the sheet.
  3. In a small skillet, toast the coriander, fennel and cumin seeds with 3 or 4 black peppercorns until fragrant. Add to a spice grinder, allow to cool and then grind until the mixture is coarse (you don’t want it too powdery). Mix the spice mixture with an equal amount of salt (may need more than 1/4 cup) and then aggressively season the chickens on the sheet (you won’t necessarily use the whole spice mixture.) Allow them to marinate at room temperature for one hour.
  4. Preheat the oven to 475 degrees.
  5. Place the cookie sheet in the oven and roast the chickens for 45 minutes, monitoring the temperature as you do. If the chickens get too brown too quickly, lower the temperature to 425. After 45 minutes, use a probe thermometer to take the chickens’ temperature: you want it to register 165 between the thigh and the leg. When that happens, allow the chickens to rest slightly, for 10 minutes or so.
  6. Meanwhile, while the chickens are roasting, make your cous cous salad. Bring 2 1/2 cups of your chicken stock to a boil. Add a pinch of salt, a splash of olive oil and then add 2 cups of uncooked cous cous. Turn off the heat, sprinkle the golden raisins on top (this helps them plump up) and cover the pan. A few minutes later it’ll be ready.
  7. Fluff the cous cous with a fork, add to a large bowl and toss together with onion, parsley, almonds and enough olive oil and vinegar to make it flavorful (you have to taste as you go here, adjusting with more salt, pepper, olive oil and vinegar as necessary.)
  8. To serve, cut up the chicken into legs, thighs, wings, and breast pieces (cut the whole breast into quarters.) Place on a platter and bring to the table along with the cous cous salad and salsa verde for your guests to drizzle on top.

– Recipe adapted by Adam Roberts from Pete Wells’s Butterflied Chicken with Cracked Spices.