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Bob Hart’s recipe for 5 spice chook

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The perfect roasted chook – moist and tender, perfectly crisped and golden, and tasty beyond measure  – is just about the most delicious thing you will ever cook on a barbecue. Sone effort, research and diligence is required, however. But not much…


For starters, we are not talking a supermarket chook here – certainly not!


I suggest you spend a few extra bucks on a Size 20 (1kg) free-range, farm-raised fresh (unfrozen!) bird. If you shop wisely and avoid any chook sealed into a plastic casing, you will still get a great bird and change from $20 which, for a joint that will feed a small family, well, is very good going.


And if you keep things simple and roast it carefully in a covered barbecue, watching that internal temperature like a hawk, you will not go far wrong. But if, just this once, you would like to play with the flavour profile a little and introduce a hint of Asian flavourings, you may surprise even yourself.


Because the fact is that Chinese chefs are, in my view, the finest chicken cooks of all. And in the case of this technique for a dish called Five-spice Roast Chook, it is not only an ingenious dish, but also an absolutely delicious one. And outrageously simple. Try this…


First of all combine 1tbs of sea salt with 2 tsp five-spice powder, which you will find in any Asian food outlet. You will also need some neutral (not olive!) oil such as grapeseed or Canola. And nothing else.


Ensure your chicken is washed and dried, and place it on a rack – one you can easily put in the fridge, ideally in a shallow baking dish. Combine the salt and five-spice powder in a bowl and mix well. Now, rub this seasoning all over the bird, sit it back on that rack and place, uncovered, in the fridge. And now, one surprising bit: leave it in the fridge, still uncovered, for at least a day, and two if you like. Trust me.


When you are ready to cook the bird, bring your (covered) barbecue up to 200C. Carefully apply the neutral oil to the bird, being carefully not to brush off any of the salt or five-spite powder in the process. Then, sit the chicken on an adjustable roasting rack, place it on the grill and drop the lid. Use your instant-read digital meat thermometer to monitor the temperature of the breast and take it off when it hits 70C. Place it somewhere warm to rest for about and hour if you can bear to wait that long.


Then eat, greedily, and be truly amazed!

Peter 'Grubby' Stubbs