Shropshire Spatchcock

(Serves 4-6)


  1. This is not a recipe for you if your preference is for undercooked and bloody meat. The recipe follows the mediæval tradition of meat falling off the bones, a necessity for the well-to-do of the period where a combination of a sweet tooth and no dental services meant no teeth.
  2. Larger chickens do have more flavour but spatchcocking is not suitable for any bird over 3lbs.
  3. 'Proper' spatchcocking involves removing the backbone and a few other routines. It is far simpler to cut along the side of the backbone with a poultry shears, open up the bird and flatten. A little bit of force may be necessary for the latter operation. Make sure that the cavity of the bird is well washed out and any lumps of fat removed.
  4. A large casserole dish or roasting pan will be needed to take the flattened bird. The bird should not be cramped. There should be space (½"-1") around the edge of the bird. Foil can be used to cover the dish if a lid is not available.
  5. The dish can be eaten hot or cold. One handy method is to use some of the chicken and all the vegetables on the day of cooking and freeze the remaining chicken with some of the liquid. The latter will thaw as a lemony partially-jellied chicken, useful for salads.
  6. Ideal Shropshire wines are those from Wroxeter Roman, Ludlow or Commonwood vineyards, such as Madeline Angevine or Phoenix. If you are unable to obtain wines from these vineyards then substitute from another English or Welsh vineyard.
  7. Any remaining wine is deemed the cook's portion.
  1. Place spatchcocked chicken (skin side up) in large casserole dish.
  2. Insert carrot, onion and lemon pieces, bay leaves and rosemary sprigs under and around the chicken.
  3. Pour in two thirds of the wine and the water. The chicken should be about three quarters covered. Ensure that no vegetables are exposed or they will char.
  4. Sprinkle over ground mustard to taste.
  5. If your casserole dish is hob-proof, heat to simmering otherwise add 15 mins. to the cooking time.
  6. Cover the dish and cook in a slow oven (150°C/300°F/Mark 2) for 3 hours. Check after 1, 1½, 2, 2½ and 2¾ hours, baste and add further water or adjust oven temperature as necessary. If the bird is ultra lean, sprinkle with a little olive oil.
  7. Check that the bird is cooked to your liking.
Serve with new potatoes and green vegetables.