3 small (size 4-6) chickens
freshly ground black pepper
½ cup olive oil
juice of 2 lemons
4 cloves garlic, crushed

One way to enjoy the crisp skin of barbecued chicken, and at the same time avoid worrying about whether the meat is properly cooked, is to split whole small chickens down the backbone and flatten them with a cleaver. The French call this preparation ‘à la crapaudine’ because the shape is reminiscent of a toad. The earthy Australians call it ‘run-over rooster’!

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1.Lie the chickens on a chopping board, breast-side down.
2.Split them open along the whole backbone.
3.Crack the breastbone and press the chicken out flat, making cuts in the wing and leg joints so that they will spread flat.
4.Turn the chicken over so that the skin is next to the chopping board.
5.Whack the chickens with the side of a cleaver or meat mallet to make them as flat as possible.
6.Sprinkle all over with pepper and salt.
7.Mix the oil, lemon juice and garlic together in a shallow bowl.
8.Lie the chickens in the marinade for 2 hours, turning from time to time.
9.When ready to cook, drain the chickens.
10.Oil the grill before putting it over the barbecue.
11.Place the chickens on, skin-side down.
12.Barbecue until the skin is starting to turn golden brown, brushing with any leftover marinade from time to time.
13.Turn and cook the cut side.
14.Turn once or twice more during cooking.
15.The chickens are ready when the juices in the thighs are no longer pink.
16.This may take up to half an hour depending on the heat of the barbecue and the size of the chickens.

Reproduced with permission of Lois Daish.