Monday, January 17, 2011

The Flattie

Friday evening instead of the normal braai I decided to one of my old-time favourites again. Actually my mother-in-law requested it and you never say no to your mother-in-law, especially not is she was visiting and had been cooking, cleaning and fetching your child from school for the past two weeks. A "flattie" is just a chicken that is grilled over an open fire, but flattened out. I use the same herbs and spices than what I normal do for my Weber chicken, but this time I just used salt and peri-peri. The reason why I haven't done this for a while is because I don't have the right set-up to keep the chicken approximately 40 cm above the fire. I had to make a plan and this is what I came up with.

On Friday the wind was pumping, so I had to find a spot which was a bit more protected from the wind. I have such a spot in my garden where I keep some braai wood and other garden utensils. It work fine.

Because I didn't want to make fire on the brick paving, I used my normal braai without the legs and put that on the ground. The idea is to create a little oven, so a piece of marble that was already standing there (remnants from when we redid our kitchen) was used for the back wall of the oven.

On the sides I used some left over roof tiles. Unfortunately I had nothing to put in the front, but on windless days that is not a problem. The heat will not escape. This was a windy day and I would only later find out that my fire was burning out too fast. I solved that problem with planks and extra briquettes.

Preparing the chicken is easy. Cut it open and cover it with salt and peri-peri to taste. I used to cut it open through the breast, but my wife the cook said it is easier through the back. Whatever you prefer, in the end it tastes the same, just looks a bit different. She however claims that the chicken stays more juicy if you make the cut through the back with less flesh, so I didn't argue...she still had the knife in her hand.

I made the fire with briquettes. The briquettes lasts longer than wood and charcoal, and seeing that the chicken cooks for 90 minutes or more, it is better to use the briquettes. Once the fire is ready I flattened it the coals and was ready to put the chicken on. If you find that the coals are burning out before your chicken is done, just add a few more briquettes on the fire, they will soon join in and keep the party going.

When you put the chicken on, make sure it is the inside of the chicken that is facing the fire. The chicken will cook through from this side and when you can see on the outside that the flesh is changing colour, you can just turn it around to grill the skin which gives it that good colour and taste. Cover the top of the chicken with tinfoil, this will help with the cooking and prevent heat loss. You can leave the chicken now and return an hour later if you wish, but what's the fun in that? I come and check regularly to see if the coals are still fine and to smell a delicious meal in progress.

Voila! The final product.

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