The usual headnote to a post like this would involve me relaying witty anecdotes about the perils of telling the Bean that sheâ€™s about to eat spatchcock for dinner (â€œIâ€™m eating whose what?!â€ she will respond, shortly followed by â€œEeeuuurrrgh!!â€).
Or maybe, if I were feeling particularly â€˜televisionâ€™, I would be gushing about how tender this method of cooking makes the meat.
How lush, and juicy, and fresh.
A perfect Spring-time feast for an almost-warm day.
The mellow sweetness of the pumpkin and beetroot offsetting the richness of the young bird.
The floral lemon and thyme butter stuffed naughtily under the skin of the bird.
*insert shoulder / bust wiggle*
But instead of rolling in the recollection of firm, yielding beetroot that turned trips to the bathroom into a spectacularly pink display the day after, Iâ€™m mulling on the stressors in my life and how to minimise the effect theyâ€™re having on my health.
Itâ€™s a rare luxury to be in the kitchen these days. Time, the ever rolling sea, ticks on and life is filled with a fog of celebration, commiseration and those moments of utter solitude that seem to pass almost before Iâ€™ve had a chance to relish and enjoy them.
The kitchen is about to get torn out. To be replaced with the newer, shinier model. Soon, there will be a steam oven wide enough to roast two chickens in and clever enough to clean itself. There will be a five burner gas stove, with a separate burner just for the wok. There will be a double sink and a big flat bench top. Wooden floors. Counters lowered by 4cm so we donâ€™t have to stand on stools to chop vegetables or do the dishes.
But before that, there will be a barren, dust-filled, utterly useless work zone in the middle of our home. There will be meals cooked on the barbecue and in the microwave. My plates, glasses and cutlery will be packed into boxes and stored. And I will be bereft.
Like all things, though, it is temporary. And like all experiences, it is beneficial. The storm before the calm. The heartache before fulfilment. The madness before a well-earned holiday.
And like any storm, there is comfort.
In lying on the grass, throwing questions into the air and making chains from white flowers. In watching horror movies with old friends made new, and new friends made comfortable. In drinking red wine with some of my favourite people in the world and dancing in a dress that swishes just so and a bolero of glistening gold matte sequins.
Oh, and in eating perfectly cooked, utterly delicious roasted spatchcock with beetroot, pumpkin and squeaky green beans. From a recipe I developed myself. Having never seen (let alone cooked) a spatchcock before in my life.
Simple pleasures in the midst of a storm.
you will need:
3x 500g spatchcock
sprigs of thyme
3 strips of proscuitto
1/2C white wine
3 tbsp olive oil
2-3 small beetroot
green beans to serve
how to do it:
1. Cut the pumpkin up into slices. Chop the leaves off the beetroot and give it a wash.
2. Zest the lemon into a bowl and combine with 2tbsp of thyme leaves stripped off the stem and 100g softened butter. Mix it round until you can see the thyme and zest interspersed evenly in the fatty yellow goodness.
3. Rinse the spatchcock and pat them dry. Gently ease the skin on the breast away from the flesh and stuff the compound butter in between the skin and the bird. Try to spread it out a little bit if you can, but don’t get too fussed if it’s lumpy.Â Quarter the (now rindless) lemon and shove one quarter up the spatchcock’s butt. This, in combination with the butter will make the bird amazingly tender and juicy.
4. Chop the onion roughly into half-rings and scatter across the bottom of a baking dish. Add a few sprigs of thyme. Top the mixture with the white wine and add enough water to come 5mm up the side of the baking dish.
5. Wrap a strip of proscuitto around the middle of each bird and pop them on top of the onion bed. Rub salt and a tablespoon of olive oil into the skin of each bird, letting the excess oil drip into the onion mix.
6. Pop the birds and the vegetables into an 180C oven for 40 minutes.
7. While the birds are resting, peel the pumpkin and beetroot. Heat the pan juices (onion and thyme and all!) over a low heat until the liquid reduces by half. Add salt to taste. If you like, mix in a bit of cornflour and water to thicken the sauce further.
8. All you need to do now is blanch some green beans until they’re squeaky and serve! We fed four with these quantities, and fought over the legs. You could serve three or add an extra bird if you’re particularly hungry.