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Recipe  •  16 May 2024


Pollo Mariposa con Mantequilla de Guajillo (Guajillo Butter Spatchcock Chicken)

Brushed with a punchy Mexican dried chilli, lemon and garlic butter, this spatchcocked roast chicken is an impressive centrepiece for summer dinner parties.

This flavoured butter is one that I often prepare – the Mexican dried chillies, garlic, spices and citrus just work so well together; trust me, you will keep making this recipe over and over. Guajillo and ancho chillies are used not only to impart colour to the chicken, but also to bring different flavour notes, from fruity, to tangy, smoky and earthy, adding heaps of flavour every time. Using them in their ground form makes it very easy to add a lot of flavour into your everyday meals, which is why I always keep ground chillies in my store cupboard as well as whole ones. This recipe deserves all the attention – a roast chicken goes a long way to feed a family of four or served at a small dinner party.

Serves: 4


For the butter:

  • 40g soft butter
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tbsp ground guajillo
  • 1 tsp ground ancho chilli
  • ¼ tsp ground cumin
  • ½ tsp smoked paprika
  • ½ tsp ground black pepper
  • zest of 1 lemon (reserve the zested lemon for the chicken)

For the chicken:

  • 1.5kg whole chicken, spatchcocked (see Tip or ask your butcher to prepare it for you)
  • flaky salt and black pepper
  • 10g parsley, finely chopped


  1. Preheat the oven to 200˚C (400˚F).

  2. Prepare the guajillo butter: simply put all the ingredients into a bowl and use a wooden spoon to mix everything together until completely blended. Set aside.

  3. Place the spatchcocked chicken into a roasting tray skin-side down. Use a pastry brush to brush half of the guajillo butter over the chicken, making sure the butter goes into all the crevices. Season with a pinch of flaky salt and black pepper, then flip the chicken and brush the remaining butter over the skin side of the chicken. Season well with salt and pepper.

  4. Cut the lemon into quarters and position them underneath the chicken, then place in the oven for 45–50 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through, basting the chicken with the tray juices halfway through the cooking time.

  5. Remove the chicken from the oven and let it rest for 10 minutes before carving. Serve the chicken on a pretty platter with some of the tray juices and squeeze the lemon quarters over the top. Garnish with the parsley and serve.

Tip: To spatchcock a chicken, place the chicken breast-side down on a board. Use sharp kitchen scissors to cut along either side of the backbone to remove it. Turn the chicken over then press down hard on the breastbone with your hand to flatten the chicken. Not only will this reduce the cooking time, it also helps the chicken to cook more evenly in the oven.

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