Barbecuing chicken is such a summery pastime and this relaxed dish boasts big, gutsy flavours that are made for sharing outside. There's something irresistible about the combination of meat cooked on the bone – so moist and succulent – with the smokiness of doing it over real coals. The key here is to bring the chicken to room temperature for an hour or more before you start. Cooking fridge-cold chicken affects the cooking time and yields a less tender result.
1.4kg chicken, butterflied
freshly ground black pepper
4 gem/baby cos lettuces, halved lengthways
1 lemon, cut in half crossways
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 handfuls mint leaves
For the marinade
4 fresh bay leaves, finely sliced
2 tbsp salt flakes
2 tbsp fennel seeds
4 garlic cloves, skin on*
80ml extra virgin olive oil
For the chipotle mayo
250ml thick mayonnaise
2½ tbsp chipotle sauce
2 tsp sherry vinegar
1. From the underside of the bird, run a knife along the side of each thigh bone, making a 1cm-deep incision either side of the bone to allow the marinade to seep in and ensure even cooking.
2. For the marinade, pound the bay and salt to a rough powder using a mortar and pestle, then add the fennel seeds and grind. Pound in the garlic, then stir in the oil to make a rough paste, leaving any garlic skins in it.
3. Rub the marinade all over the chicken, then season with pepper. Stand at room temperature to marinate for at least 1 hour.
4. Preheat a barbecue, ideally using coals, but gas will work, too.
5. Cook the chicken skin-side down over low, even coals (or on a medium heat) for 25 minutes, then turn over and cook for 20 minutes covered loosely with foil (to more evenly distribute the heat). Then move to a dish in a warm place, lightly cover and rest for 20 minutes before serving.
6. Meanwhile, grill the lettuce and lemon halves, cut side down, for 3 minutes. The lettuce will char and wilt slightly, but still hold its shape.
7. For the mayo, combine all the ingredients in a small bowl.
8. Dress the grilled lettuce with the balsamic and arrange on a serving plate with the rested chicken. Pour the chicken resting juices over the bird and the lettuce, sprinkle over the mint and serve with the charred lemon and mayo.
*Tip: I like to leave the skin on the garlic, which further intensifies a flavour that's already quite punchy, thanks to the bay leaves and fennel seeds.