This is a gorgeous and very simple recipe that you can make for a cozy family dinner, or even when the boss comes over. It’s impressive and deeply flavorful, dramatic to present, delicious to enjoy!
ASTUCE: I suggest stuffing the chicken with either an orange or two clementines, but you don’t have to. I love the slight additional flavor they add, and their juice squeezed over the chicken right before serving, but I promise this dish is fabulous without them too. The vinegar poured over the chicken adds a touch of welcome acidity to the sauce and crisps up the skin too.
A crapaud is a toad, which is what this chicken looks like when its backbone is removed and it’s flattened, like a toad that’s about to hop! But don’t worry, it will sit still as you rub butter under its skin, then slather it with a gorgeously piquant mixture of mustard and peppers, à la diable. Why go to the effort of removing the backbone? Well, it’s no effort first of all; once you get the hang of cutting out the backbone, you’ll do it with your eyes closed, in seconds. Second of all by flattening it out, it cooks evenly over the coals and ends up looking intriguingly delicious. Serve this with a delicious micro-brew, one that’s not too dark.
ASTUCE: remember to cut the bones at either side of the base of the neck, so that you can flatten the chicken easily. And if you want this truly “devilish” you’ll likely want to increase the amount of spicy smoked paprika and piment d’Espelette.
SPECIAL EQUIPMENT: poultry shears or heavy chef’s knife, pastry brush (for brushing butter and mustard mixture on chicken), tongs, gloves.
PREPARATION AND COOKING TIME: about 1-1/2 hours
DIFFICULTY LEVEL: moderate
NOTE: that during steaming, fat drains away from the chicken yet the meat remains moist, and permeated with the flavors rubbed under the skin. Note, too, that you need to drain the yogurt about 8 hours in the refrigerator, so do this the night before you plan to cook the dish.