Roasted spatchcock with Turkish black chilli

Frank Camorra
It is well worth brining spatchcock for a few hours before roasting to ensure tender meat.
It is well worth brining spatchcock for a few hours before roasting to ensure tender meat. Photo: Marcel Aucar

Spatchcock and quail are sold at most poultry shops. If you would like to try a game bird such as squab, pheasant or guinea fowl, try your local produce market or specialty butcher. Turkish black chilli has a deep, sweet-smoky aroma and the dark purple flakes have a sticky feel when you sprinkle them over the bird. This sort of chilli, sold in Middle Eastern grocery stores, gives a slow, gradual warmth rather than the violent, burning heat of some other chillies. I recommend you brine the meat for four hours before cooking.


50g salt

5 litres water

1 lemon, quartered

¼ bunch thyme

4 spatchcock, about 500g each

2 tbsp olive oil

4 tbsp Turkish black chilli



Mix the salt and water until the salt dissolves, then add the lemon and thyme and stir.

Place the birds breast side up on a cutting board. To remove each backbone, slide a sharp knife into the stomach cavity with the point of the knife sticking out slightly through the hole near the neck. Line the knife up where the leg connects to the body and cut down one side of the backbone, then the other side (you can also cut out the backbone with kitchen shears).

Press down on the middle of the breast area gently to flatten each bird on the board.

Place them in the salt water and store in the fridge for four hours for brining, which helps the birds stay moist and flavoursome.

Heat the oven to 190C. Remove the birds from the brine and pat dry with a paper towel (don't wash with water). Place them on a roasting tray breast side up, drizzle with a little olive oil and sprinkle with black chilli.

Roast in the oven for about 20 minutes. Remove from oven, turn them over and check the inside of the leg joint. If there is no pink flesh, they are cooked.

Rest in a warm place for a few minutes before serving. Sprinkle with more chilli if you like it hot.


Brining can be used for chicken or other meats before roasting. Larger pieces should be brined for longer.