Simplicity & flavour-icity at its best

PREP TIME: 10 mins
IDEAL FOR: family, easy meal, midweek meal
BUDGET: £ – ££

Barbuto’s restaurant, West Village, NYC.

The place I love.

And its owner/chef, Jonathan Waxman has given me many recipes that are simple and flavoursome.

Including the famous JW roast chicken – it’s my all-time favourite.

But this time, I have a recipe for you to try that comes via JW.

It’s Richard Olney’s spatchcocked chicken stuffed with ricotta & courgette.

(or they call it zucchini but we’ll address that shortly).

Who is Richard Olney

I had never heard of him, tbh.

And this is what makes cooking interesting.

You come across recipes and if you investigate them a little further.

You end up down a rabbit hole on the internet discovering all sorts of amazing historical foodie facts.

Or interesting people who have a passion for food and travel.

And Richard Olney turns out to be one of those.

In a nutshell…

Olney was an American painter, cook, food writer, editor, and memoirist.

Who lived most of his life in Solliès-Toucas, France.

He was one of the most important food writers of the era.

Due to his deep knowledge of traditional classic French food and wine.

And had a huge impact on nouvelle cuisine (I’m glad that trend had moved on though) and California cuisine.

He wrote many classic and influential cookbooks of French country cooking.

Best known for his influential books of French country cooking.

And wrote (a now Top 10 cookbooks, ever (sorry Jamie, Nigella, Gordon), The French Menu Cookbook.

Plus, a 2nd hit, Simple French Food.

Which is where this recipe comes from.

Richard Olney’s spatchcocked chicken stuffed with ricotta and zucchini*

*see below

So, although I discovered this recipe via JW’s Barbuto’s cookbook.

It originally came from Olney’s Simple French Food.

Two great things about this recipe;

  1. Spatchcocked chicken – means both the white and dark meat cook more evenly
  2. The herb-ricotta filling is pushed under the skin and makes the meat more creamy

At first, I thought I had too much filling (I also added more ricotta than the recipe as I didn’t want to waste it).

But having gently stuffed it all under the skin.

And it looking rather puffy.

When it cooked, it maintained its shape and didn’t come spilling out as I expected.

It almost was souffle-like.

The combo of ricotta, herbs and courgette aka zucchini is delicious.

Courgette vs Zucchini

Now, I’m here, I might as well clear up the differences.

Zucchini and courgette are both summer squashes.

And usually harvested when they’re still immature at about 15 to 25 cm.

Although, zucchini are usually slightly bigger.

Zucchini has an Italian origin.

Courgette is French.

It’s mainly in North America and Australia where the name zucchini is used.

And courgette is used by French, British and New Zealand.

So, enjoy this recipe whether it be with zucchini or courgette.

And don’t be afraid to spatchcock a whole chicken, it’s easy. Check out how, here

If you have some great spatchcocked chicken recipes, leave a comment…

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4 from 1 vote

Richard Olney’s spatchcocked chicken with ricotta and courgette

Course Main Course
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Servings 4 people
Cost £-££


  • 1.5 kg chicken, spatchcocked see post for 'how to' or ask your butcher to do it
  • 3 medium courgettes
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese (or just add the whole container – 250g) like I did, It didn't overflow from the chicken)
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh herbs (thyme, parsley, marjoram) (or dried)
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • Oil (for sprinkling)
  • salt and pepper


  • Grate the skin and flesh of the courgette and put into a colander; sprinkle it with salt, and set the colander on a plate so it can drain for 20 minutes.
    Squeeze the courgette with your hands to get as much liquid out as possible.
    In a frying pan, melt the butter and cook the onion for 8 minutes or until it turns translucent.
    Pre-heat the oven at 200 C / 400 F.
    In a bowl, put int the ricotta cheese, courgette, onion, herbs, egg, Parmesan, pepper and mix.
    With your fingers, gently make a pocket between the chicken skin and flesh a long both breasts and the thighs.
    Then, using a spoon, ease stuffing onto the pockets, gently pushing it as far down.
    Sprinkle the skin with oil, salt, and pepper.
    Roast the chicken for 1 hour or until the skin is golden. If it browns too much during roasting, cover it loosely with foil.
    Transfer the chicken to a platter, quarter it, and serve.