Circa 1995. 6am. April. North coast. Stress levels – defcon 5. The Season is just starting………….
It takes exactly 27 minutes for the Kitchen to warm up if I crank on all 12 oven burners now, that’s enough time. I need to change, smoke, get caffeinated, smoke, run the order list, oversee deliveries and start prep…and have another smoke. But first things first – I flip the tape cassette in the stereo that Chef nailed-gunned to the wall above the prep sink (long story) and repeatedly hit the play button…its wonky, the damn thing slips..usually takes 6 robust thumbs and a punch and it starts..I get it in 2 today..a good omen. Shoot to Thrill by AC/DC kicks in and my morning ignites. I’m completely alone in this pristine stainless steel wonderland. I want a bacon sandwich on soda bread
My Chef jacket is fresh from the cleaners andblinding white….this wont last and I wonder why I bother my arse getting these professionally cleaned. There will be blood on my jacket before lunch. I hate chef-checks* and refuse to wear them preferring cargo shorts instead – for me, checks are the clown-pants of the kitchen world and should be burned at every opportunity. Kitchen footwear is German army boots, 10-holes high with pristine white football socks – no kitchen-clogs, those are for clowns or Dutch people. My ‘Super- hero cape’ is a classic butcher’s apron, traditional blue and white and NOT hung from the neck but instead folded in half and strapped around my waist allowing it to hang low to the top of the boots. The final flourish are two cloths straight from the laundry – one on the left hip one the right – one will remain ultra dry and used exclusively to protect my hands from 3rd degree burns the other will act as simple a wiper of surfaces, remover of kitchen debris and the deliver-er of welts to the back-sides of waitresses …this, I must point out is in self-defence….our waitresses have mauled better men than me and they will maul again…….I can’t drop my defences..ever..they are predators….very dam attractive predators…..
A quick Marbolo red at the back door salutes the completion of the change from street bum to kitchen commando – I’m clean and fresh this morning opting out of last night’s ‘Shoot the bar’ across the street in The Anchor. Tony will be a mess today, he’ll fight with his own shadow..I’ll leave a double Jack Daniels for him in the walk-in fridge, he’ll be here by 7.30am and he’ll need it. I’ll rob it from the bar. I’m peachy-fresh however, reactions are swift, impulses are controlled and my mind is like a steel trap – this is my universe and I am it’s master.
My Marlboro butt hits the ground and I march with purpose to swing open the back gate, the smell of diesel and squeal of breaks sees the first of the delivery vans arrive. It smells like morning. The salt air coming from the bay is a tonic. Big Northern men in baseball hats, beards and worn leather jackets begin ferrying in boxes of veg and dry store goods. I sign for everything as Adolf Smythe Snr…(another story). They instinctively know where to go to dump the goods – stock room for the drys and right into the heart of the kitchen for the veg which will be prepped almost immediately. Courgette, carrot, spuds, cabbage red, white and Savoy, aubergine, leeks, asparagus and beets- we lose an Aubergine in the process, I am fucking gutted, these vegetables are my favourite..there’s no saving this one and the bearded idiot responsible for its demise is blissfully unaware of how close he came to a polished German army boot in his groin.
The veg men disappear to be replaced by foul – Chicken and Game – men, they’re stalky and skinny and march with military precision into the cold room to deposit full, pulp, corn-fed chickens that will be de-constructed at a later date. My interest is tweaked at this point as a I need a Special for later. I strike up another Red with the men when they’re done ‘droppin’ bird’, we’re the last joint on their run so they like to linger and smoke. We talk about everything and nothing for 5 minutes, solve some world problems then stump the smokes and go back to what pays us.
I have 30 minutes before the ‘Big Lad’ arrives – ‘Stan-Stan the Beef Man’….my favorite supplier and Chef’s ‘lastest’ squeeze. Stan will keep me at least 60 minutes talking about lungs and kidneys…… I need a special, I think on the flattened aubergine and I have it – Spatchcocked ‘Indoor BBQ’ Chicken (a bit of a mouthful in more ways than one) ….I have 60 minutes to prep…..this will be tight..I’ll have a Red and a coffee first…..
♠The perfect Spatchcocked & Oven-BBQ’d Chicken♣
Prep time: 24 hours (but that’s the marination vacation) ♦ Cook Time: 40 mins ♦ Total time (cook) 40minutes ♦ Serves 4
♣WHAT YOU NEED♥
1 large free-range chicken
2 tbs freshly cracked black pepper
1 tbs salt flakes
juice of 1 lemon
2 tbs sweet paprika
2 tps Cayenne pepper
50mls Rape Seed oil
♠HOW YOU DO IT♥
Spatchcock the chook – (or get your butcher to do this) – but if you have a very sharp knife that is as long as the chook is then have a go – you can’t really stuff this up. Flip the bird onto its back, insert the knife into the main cavity on one side of the back bone then cut straight through to the board. Repeat on the other side of the back bone then remove it in one piece. You can now simply apply pressure to the breast, push down and flatten the bird until it looks a bit like a frog.
Next for the flavourings/marinade – in a wide roaster combine the Cayenne, Paprika, Lemon juice, salt, cracked black pepper and Rapeseed oil and mix well – have a taste, if it takes your head off you’re good to go.
Take the same knife you used to spatchcoock the chook and literally slash it all over – particularly to the bone in and around the legs and thighs – this will ensure even cooking and absorption of the marinade. Cling and refrigerate for at least 24 hours!!
When you are ready to cook flip the oven onto 220c and get it super hot. Remove the chook from the fridge and allow to come up to nearly room temp. but it must remain cold to the touch DO NOT ALLOW THE CHICKEN TO LINGER OUT OF THE FRIDGE!!
Drop the oven temp to 180c then remove one of the grill shelves and set the spatchcocked chook right on the bars breast up and place back in the oven to BBQ for 40 minutes. You may want to add a drip tray under the chook to catch the juices as it cooks. What is a really funky idea is to sling some 1/2 cooked chipped spuds into the tray and allow them to roast-out in the dripping juices.
Serve it up! But check the chook is cooked by cutting into the thick parts – legs and thighs, make sure there is zero red, pink or blush – if you have a thermometer use it also and look for 75c minimum!
FANCY A BEER? TRY THIS: