Squashing the chicken with a weight while cooked on a plancha or a cast iron pan is a Georgian technique, yet basting it with lots of honeyed and spiced kefir is my Ukrainian dad’s technique. It cooks rather quickly and is so delicious. Salting the chicken a little in advance ensures tender flesh and crispy skin. Watch the flames if you are cooking it over fire, they shouldn’t be too fierce, but a bit of char is of course welcome.
- To spatchcock the chicken, simply cut along the backbone with some scissors or cut with a meat knife. Press on the breast to flatten it.
- Rub 2/3rds of Maldon Salt into the chicken’s skin, then rub in the oil and leave for 15 minutes to an hour. If your chicken was in the fridge it should come to room temp in that time.
- Mix the kefir with the rest of the Maldon Salt salt and paprika.
- Heat the fire pit or barbecue or otherwise lightly oil a large cast iron frying pan or even an oiled baking tray which you can place on the bottom shelf of a 200C preheated oven.
- Start cooking the chicken cut side down, for about 7 minutes, then turn the it skin-side down and place a pan and a weight on (be careful that this is all stable enough and does not collapse) and cook for about 10 minutes. Check that the skin is not becoming too black, if it is lower the flames (by pushing coals to the side if doing it over fire), and cook on cut side down under a weight for another 5 minutes. Your small chicken will likely need a further 5 under a weight and another 5 minutes when you baste the chicken with the kefir marinade.
- To check that the chicken is done, pull away at the leg (it should pull away from the joint easily) and pierce the thigh and breast, then pressing on it to see if the juices run clear.
- Serve with the green potatoes and a simple lettuce salad.