Peter Kuruvita knows how to pack flavour into a dish while still allowing the individual ingredients to speak for themselves. This recipe uses morel mushrooms, which impart a slightly nutty flavour. If you can’t find fresh morels, you can use dried morels soaked in hot water as an alternative.






Skill level

Average: 2.1 (8 votes)


  • 4 x 500 g spatchcocks
  • 12 morel mushrooms (see Note), roughly sliced
  • 250 ml (1 cup) verjuice (see Note) 
  • 500 ml (2 cups) good-quality veal or chicken stock
  • 200 g (1⅓ cups) moghrabieh (pearl couscous) (see Note)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil, plus extra, to serve
  • ½ preserved lemon, finely chopped
  • 6 water chestnuts, chopped
  • 1 nashi pear, chopped
  • baby shiso or lamb’s lettuce (mâche) (see Note), to serve


Prune purée

  • 170 g (1 cup) seeded prunes
  • 1 cm piece ginger, sliced
  • 60 ml (¼ cup) balsamic vinegar

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


For this recipe, you will need a sugar thermometer.

Drink match 2007 William Cole 'Bill’ Sauvignon Blanc.

Debone spatchcocks (see Note), ensuring skin is still intact. Cut each spatchcock in half between each breast. Pat dry with paper towel.

Lay a spatchcock half, skin-side down, on a work surface. Season well with salt and pepper. Place one-eighth of the morel slices along the breast, then, starting at the breast end, roll up spatchcock tightly, folding in the sides as you go to form a roll. Place the roll on the bottom edge of a 30 cm sheet of plastic wrap and carefully and tightly roll up spatchcock in plastic wrap. Holding both ends of the wrap, roll spatchcock repeatedly on a work surface so that both ends twist to form a tight barrel shape. Tie ends of wrap to secure and ensure water doesn’t enter the roll during cooking. Place in a snap-lock bag and seal, extracting as much air as possible. Repeat with remaining spatchcock and mushrooms.

Place a folded tea towel in the base of a large pan or stockpot (this protects the bags from the heat at the bottom of the pan). Arrange bags over tea towel in a single layer and cover with water. Top with a plate to ensure bags stay submerged. Cook over low heat for 1¼ hours or until spatchcocks are firm to the touch. (Use a sugar thermometer to ensure the water temperature doesn’t exceed 65°C, adding cold water to reduce the temperature as required.) Remove from heat and set aside for 30 minutes. Remove spatchcocks from water and set aside for a further 15 minutes. (If preparing ahead of time, refrigerate until needed. Remove from fridge 30 minutes before cooking).

Meanwhile, to make prune purée, place all ingredients in a pan with 300 ml water. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and cook for 10 minutes or until liquid is reduced by half. Process in a food processor until smooth. Strain through a fine sieve and set aside. To make jus, place verjuice in a pan and bring to the boil. Reduce heat to medium and cook for 10 minutes or until reduced by half. Add stock and simmer for a further 15 minutes or until reduced by one-third. Season.

Meanwhile, bring a saucepan of salted water to the boil. Cook couscous for 6 minutes or until almost tender, then drain. Return to pan and stir in jus and preserved lemon, and season. Cook over low heat for 2 minutes or until heated through.

Remove spatchcock rolls from bags, then carefully remove plastic wrap and dry with paper towel. Heat oil in a heavy-based frying pan over high heat. Working in batches, cook spatchcock rolls, turning, for 5 minutes or until crisp and golden. Drain on paper towel.

Strain couscous over a bowl, reserving jus and ½ cup couscous. Cut spatchcock rolls on an angle into 3. Divide couscous among plates, top with prune purée and scatter over water chestnuts and pear. Top with spatchcock slices and spoon over reserved jus. Scatter with reserved couscous and baby shiso or lamb’s lettuce, and drizzle with olive oil to serve.


• Morels have a slightly nutty flavour. If using fresh morels, ensure they have firm spongy caps. Wash well before use by submerging in cold water for 5 minutes, then draining well. Pat dry with paper towel. Substitute dried morels soaked in boiling water for 20 minutes.
• Verjuice, available from supermarkets and delis, is unripe grape juice that’s used for a gently acidic flavour. Substitute white wine. Moghrabieh (pearl couscous), available from delis and specialist food shops, is a large style of couscous from Lebanon and Israel.
• Baby shiso and lamb’s lettuce are available from selected greengrocers. Substitute baby herbs or wild rocket.
• Ask your butcher to debone the spatchcocks for you.



Photography by Alan Benson.


As seen in Feast magazine, November 2011, Issue 3. For more recipes and articles, pick up a copy of this month's Feast magazine or check out our great subscriptions offers here.