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I’m a big fan of spatchcocking chicken. By increasing the surface area and allowing air to circulate throughout the bird, it allows the chicken to cook both quickly and evenly, which is great when you’re after a roasted chicken but don’t have the time to invest. Because of the relatively high cooking temperature compared to whole roast chicken, it is much easier to colour the skin and get a bit of crunch on the outside. For me, it’s the perfect alternative to a rotisserie chicken when cooking at home.
To spatchcock, ensure you have a pair of sharp scissors and a large chopping board. Remove any trussing from the bird and turn it upside down, with the breast facing down and cavity facing you. Use the scissors to cut along either side of the backbone which runs down the centre of the bird; the first cut will be the toughest as this is the largest bone to cut through. Remove the backbone and save for roasting to make future stocks or gravy. Flip the bird back over and press firmly between the two breasts until you hear a ‘pop’, where the breast bone has broken. The chicken should now sit flat with the legs and wings tucked neatly by the sides.
ROASTED CURRY POWDER
This spice blend is darker than the basic unroasted curry powder and has a nuttier flavour. The addition of rice intensifies this nuttiness and helps to thicken curries and sauces as well; I used basmati in this recipe, but red rice will work too. As the ingredients are fully roasted before grinding, this curry powder doesn’t need to be fried in fat or cooked for very long when used in a dish. Consequently, it’s often added to dishes towards the end of the cooking process and simply sprinkled over and stirred through. That said, I have seen Sri Lankan friends use this to marinate meats before adding them to curries.
1. Heat a heavy-based saucepan over a medium heat. Roast the cardamom, cloves and cinnamon in the dry pan, stirring frequently for 2–3 minutes until fragrant but being careful not to burn them.
2. Add the rice and continue roasting for 12–14 minutes until nutty and light brown. Roast the remaining ingredients separately for 12–14 minutes, stirring constantly, until the leaves are dry and brittle.
3. Leave to cool completely before grinding to a fine powder in a blender or spice grinder. Pass through a strainer and grind any remaining large pieces. Transfer to an airtight container and store in the fridge for up to 1 month.
Grinding spices while they are still warm risks their oils separating and the powder turning into a paste. Moreover, it also results in the grinder overheating, which can burn the spices and damage the motor. You can tip the freshly roasted spices onto a large plate or tray as spreading them out will help cool them down quicker.