Cooking with Colm O'Gorman: A Middle Eastern feast of spiced spatchcock chicken 

Ready in under an hour, this is the perfect quick and easy celebration dish
Cooking with Colm O'Gorman: A Middle Eastern feast of spiced spatchcock chicken 

Spatchcock chicken roasts in half the time of a regular roast chicken. 

I have two new ingredients to recommend to you this week. Both are staples in Middle Eastern cooking and are just delicious. Sumac is a beautiful spice made from dried berries. It looks a bit like a dark chilli powder but tastes entirely different. It has a lovely tart, citrus-like flavour and works beautifully with chicken. It is very versatile, try it sprinkled over poached eggs for something a little different, or over some Greek yoghurt to make a simple dip. You will find sumac in larger supermarkets or in Asian or specialist food stores. It is a lovely ingredient, well worth having in your spice drawer.

Pomegranate molasses is a dark, rich syrup made from pomegranate juice. It has a wonderful sweet and sour flavour and works beautifully in both savoury and sweet dishes. You will likely need to get this from a speciality food shop, again, most good Asian supermarkets will stock it. A little of this goes a long way, but it is a very versatile ingredient.

I came up with the recipe a few weeks ago when I was stuck for an idea for dinner. I had a whole chicken in the fridge, but as it was relatively late in the evening, I did not have time to roast it whole. Rather than break it down into pieces, which would also work for this recipe, I decided to spatchcock it. To spatchcock a chicken just means to butterfly it by removing the spine and flattening it out. Doing this reduces the cooking time a lot, and it means that you can roast a whole chicken in about forty-five to fifty minutes.

The marinade I use in this recipe takes just minutes to prepare, which means you can serve up a fabulous dinner in less than an hour. While the chicken is roasting you can make up a few simple sides, I give a few suggestions for those at the end of this recipe.

Spatchcock chicken with sumac and pomegranate molasses

recipe by:Colm O'Gorman

I came up with this recipe when I was stuck for an idea for dinner and it was a roaring success

Spatchcock chicken with sumac and pomegranate molasses



Preparation Time

5 mins

Cooking Time

50 mins

Total Time

55 mins




  • 1 1.6kg chicken

  • 2 cloves garlic

  • 2 tbsp sumac

  • 1tbsp chilli flakes

  • 1tsp flaky sea salt

  • 2 tbsp pomegranate molasses

  • Juice of one lemon

  • 1 tbsp honey


  1. Begin by spatchcocking your chicken. You can ask a butcher to this for you if you wish, but it is relatively easy to do yourself. Start by placing your chicken breast-side down, with the legs towards you. Using a sturdy scissors or poultry shears, cut up along each side of backbone from the pope’s nose to the neck cavity to remove it, cutting through the rib bones as you go. Open the chicken out and turn it over. Flatten the breastbone by pressing down hard with the heel of your hand so that the meat is all one thickness and trim away any excess fat.

  2. Grate the garlic and combine it with all the other ingredients in a bowl to make the marinade. Put the chicken into a roasting tin and smear the underside with some of the marinade. Turn the chicken over and pour over the rest of the marinade, working it in so that it coats the chicken entirely.

  3. Let the chicken sit in this marinade for about an hour if you have the time, but you can cook it straight away if you need dinner in a hurry.

  4. Heat your oven to 180°C for a fan oven, or 200°C for a conventional oven. Roast the chicken for forty-five minutes. After twenty minutes add 100ml of water to the baking tray. The marinade has quite a high sugar content so it can burn easily, adding the water will prevent that from happening. Baste the chicken a few times as it cooks. Check the chicken to see if it is cooked through after forty-five minutes. You do need to check to make sure it is cooked properly as the marinade is quite dark in colour and this can make the chicken appear like it is very well cooked as the skin will look very dark, almost charred, well before the meat is properly cooked through. If you have a meat thermometer, stick the probe into the thickest part of the breast. Once the chicken is at 74°C, it is perfectly cooked. If you do not have a meat thermometer, stick a skewer or knife into the side of the breast near the leg joint. If the juices run clear, your chicken is cooked.

  5. When the chicken is done, take it out of the oven, cover it loosely with some tin foil to keep it warm and let it rest for about fifteen minutes. You could use this time to make a simple salad to serve with the chicken. Thinly slice half a cucumber and about 200g of sweet tomatoes. Layer the cucumber in a serving bowl and add the tomatoes on top. Very thinly slice half a red onion and finely slice a green chilli. Scatter those over the tomato and drizzle the salad with some extra virgin olive oil and the juice of half a lemon. Finish with a sprinkle of flaky sea salt, some chopped flat-leaf parsley and a few pomegranate seeds. Another nice side to have with this is some Greek yoghurt with some lemon juice, grated garlic, olive oil and salt whisked though, and then a sprinkle of sumac on top.

  6. Serve the chicken with some warm flatbreads, the salad and yoghurt and, if you want to spice it up a little, a good chilli sauce. Some freshly made Shatta would be perfect. You can find my recipes for the flatbreads and the shatta here.

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