M’qualli-style spatchcocked chicken

Serves 4 Starters and mains

Spatchcock Chicken



  • 1 ½kg whole chicken, backbone removed or spatchcocked
  • large coriander sprig, finely chopped
  • 50ml olive oil, plus extra to brush
  • 3 medium onions, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1tsp ground turmeric
  • 1tsp ground ginger
  • 1 preserved lemon, pulp finely chopped, rind reserved to serve

For the marinade

  • generous pinch saffron threads
  • 1tsp ground ginger
  • 1tsp ground turmeric
  • 1tbsp olive oil
  • ½tsp sea salt
  • ½tsp freshly ground black pepper

To serve

  • small bunch coriander, finely chopped
  • 50g pitted green olives, roughly chopped
  • 200g couscous, cooked according to the packet instructions


Preheat the barbecue to a medium heat. Put the chicken on a clean work surface, skin-side up and, using your palms, press down firmly on the breastbone to flatten the breast.

In a bowl, combine all the marinade ingredients, then rub all over the chicken until thoroughly coated. Scatter the coriander over and set aside to come to room temperature.

Meanwhile, in a lidded cast iron pan, big enough to fit the chicken, heat the oil and cook the onions and garlic for 10 minutes until soft.

Add the spices and preserved lemon pulp and cook for 3–5 minutes until golden and soft. Add 150ml water and bring to the boil, then take off the heat and set aside.

Brown the marinated chicken on the barbecue for 20 minutes, turning it a couple of times to brown evenly, brushing with a little extra oil. Transfer the chicken to the pan, spooning the sauce and onions over it.

Put the pan on the barbecue, cover and cook for 20–30 minutes until the chicken is cooked through and the liquid has mostly reduced. Check the bottom of the pan every now and then, adding a splash of water if necessary, to prevent burning.

Take the pan off the heat and set aside to rest for 10 minutes. Lift out the chicken and divide into joints on the bone.

Roughly chop the preserved lemon rind and stir half of it, with half the coriander and olives, into the sauce, then return the chicken to the pan. Check for seasoning, adding salt and pepper to taste, then serve on a bed of couscous with some of the remaining lemon rind, coriander and olives scattered over and the remainder in a bowl to sprinkle.

Recipe and Photographs taken from the DIY BBQ cookbook by James Wheltor, photography by Sam Folan (Quadrille, £20)
Spatchcock Chicken
Recipe and Photographs taken from the DIY BBQ cookbook by James Wheltor, photography by Sam Folan (Quadrille, £20)


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