The Devil’s Hot Toad Chicken

This recipe with the strange name is basically a spicy, mustardy spatchcocked chicken cooked over coals. It comes from the book, French Grill, written by Susan Herrmann Loomis, published in 2018.

I’ve heard mention of Ms. Loomis over the years, an American who traveled to France to learn how to cook so she could write about French cuisine as a young journalist. I’ve even had friends who went to France for one of her cooking schools.

Ms. Loomis is the award-winning author of In a French Kitchen, memoir On Rue Tatin, just-published Plat du Jour, and many others. According to her professional website, Dancing Tomatoes, her culinary workshops are at her home in Paris.

French Grill is a wonderful book of what you’d expect – grilled French food. She begins in the book’s introduction to explain how the French invented barbecue. I don’t really care if they did or not, I’m just enjoying the recipes!

I chose the devil’s hot toad chicken mostly because of the name! The French name is Le Poulet de Diable en Crapaud – a crapaud is a toad, which is what a spatchcocked chicken resembles. The “piquant” mixture of mustard and peppers are the a la diable part of the dish (devil).

The Devil’s Hot Toad Chicken
From French Grill

1 chicken, about 3.5 – 4 pounds, at room temperature
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melte3d
Sea salt
1/2 teaspoon piment d’Espelette, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika, or to taste
1/4 teaspoon spicy smoked paprika, or to taste
1/3 cup Dijon-style mustard
2 tablespoons fresh bread crumbs, lightly toasted
Flat leaf parsley, or other herb sprigs, for garnish

Turn the chicken on its breast. Using poultry shears, cut from the tail toward the neck on the right side of the backbone; you’ll need to feel your way through this, but it’s easy to do. Repeat on the other side of the back alone; remove the backbone piece and reserve it.

If your chicken isn’t completely flat, you can make a short vertical cut at the top of the sternum/base of the neck (this is advisable for true free-run chickens with actual tensile strength; not necessary for flabbier varieties). This will allow the chicken to lie flat. Or, smack it with a skillet.

Carefully loosen the skin from the meat of the chicken, making an effort not to tear or poke a hole in it, by gently inserting a finger between skin and meat. Brush the meat with half the butter as evenly as you can, then pull the skin back over the meat.

Salt the chicken all over.

Build a fire in the grill, and when the coals are red and dusted with ash, divide them in the barbecue, putting half the coals on either side. Place a drip pan in the center. Set the grill over the coals.

While the grill is heating, whisk together the piment d’Espelette, both paprikas, and mustard in a small bowl. I cut back a bit on the mustard for my husband’s sake, and added mayonnaise for the full volume.

Place the chicken, skin side down, in the center of the hot grill. Cover and cook until the skin begins to turn golden, about 15 minutes (the temperature of the grill should be about 325 degrees F). If the skin isn’t golden at this point, remove the cover of the grill and move the chicken over the coals, watching it until the skin browns nicely, which will take just a few minutes.

Flip the chicken onto the meat side and rub the skin with 2/3 of the mustard mixture. Cover the grill and cook the chicken for 10 minutes, then flip the chicken back to the skin side.

Rub the remaining mustard mixture on the meat of the chicken and sprinkle it with half the bread crumbs, pressing them into the mustard.

Cover the barbecue and grill the chicken until it is nearly cooked through, about 15 minutes. Turn the chicken onto the meat side, sprinkle the skin with the remaining bread crumbs and press them onto the chicken.

Drizzle with the remaining butter. Cover and continue to cook until the bread crumbs are golden and the meat is cooked through, an additional 10 minutes. Surprisingly, the bread crumbs remained on the chicken.

Remove the chicken from the grill and place it, meat side down, on a warmed platter.

You can serve it either immediately, when it’s lukewarm, or at room temperature.

Garnish with herb sprigs before serving. I served the chicken with a tomato and shallot salad, with some white balsamic.

I used bread crumbs from a very hearty grainy bread. I think they were a good choice.

By Published On: April 11th, 202254 Comments

About the Author: Chef Mimi

As a self-taught home cook, with many years in the culinary profession, I am passionate about all things food-related. Especially eating!

54 Comments

  1. Travel Gourmet April 11, 2022 at 6:08 AM - Reply

    That’s a brilliant recipe. Such great flavours!

    • Chef Mimi April 11, 2022 at 6:57 AM - Reply

      It’s very good!

  2. Dorothy's New Vintage Kitchen April 11, 2022 at 7:17 AM - Reply

    Love the flavor combination in this one Mimi!

    • Chef Mimi April 11, 2022 at 7:50 AM - Reply

      It was surprisingly fabulous! Great texture.

  3. 2pots2cook April 11, 2022 at 7:43 AM - Reply

    Love your new site design! So refreshing with beautiful photos!

    • Chef Mimi April 11, 2022 at 9:54 AM - Reply

      Thank you so much!

  4. popsiclesociety April 11, 2022 at 8:06 AM - Reply

    Chicken is so versatile! Great recipe 😋

    • Chef Mimi April 11, 2022 at 8:09 AM - Reply

      Indeed it is! This recipe creates great texture.

  5. BERNADETTE April 11, 2022 at 9:43 AM - Reply

    Great recommendation and it is just in time for grilling season. I took another look at the chicken and it does look like a toad. Funny!

    • Chef Mimi April 11, 2022 at 9:55 AM - Reply

      It really does! The pictures aren’t great cause the chicken is just brown, but it was really good!

  6. Alex April 11, 2022 at 10:43 AM - Reply

    Looks great, Mimi, and the recipe sounds good too!

    • Chef Mimi April 13, 2022 at 3:29 PM - Reply

      Thanks, Alex! It was very tasty and had good texture!

  7. cookingwithauntjuju.com April 11, 2022 at 10:48 AM - Reply

    I couldn’t resist a recipe with a name like this! I’ve had these beautiful chicken scissors that are beginning to rust “from lack of use”. Fun recipe…I aways wished I could go back to France and attend Julia Child’s cooking school (actually it is in her old home).

    • Chef Mimi April 11, 2022 at 4:44 PM - Reply

      Have you been watching Julia the show? It’s wonderful.

      • cookingwithauntjuju.com April 11, 2022 at 4:47 PM

        Of course -tonight at 9:00. She is a Juju too :)

      • cookingwithauntjuju.com April 12, 2022 at 9:14 AM

        I watch the Julia Child Challenge on the Food Network every Monday. I recently moved and have not signed up for HBO MAX to watch the Julia Show.

  8. Healthy World Cuisine April 11, 2022 at 7:21 PM - Reply

    We almost thought we were on the wrong site! Congrats on the new bright and pretty theme. Love it! Now on to this Devils hot toad chicken. Delicious marinade topping. Need to find that piment d’Espelette! Stay well and take care

    • Chef Mimi April 12, 2022 at 8:02 AM - Reply

      It looks so different, but it works. And that’s what I needed. WordPress is good, but also annoying.

  9. Sherry M April 11, 2022 at 8:35 PM - Reply

    yes it does indeed look like a squashed toad! we see many of them on the road as cane toads are a pest here. People actually go out toad-hunting in groups at night and throw them in the freezer to kill ’em off. anyway this sounds marvellously tasty.

    • Chef Mimi April 12, 2022 at 8:01 AM - Reply

      Are they edible?

  10. neil@neilshealthymeals.com April 12, 2022 at 1:05 AM - Reply

    Looks so tasty Mimi! I have never BBQ’d a whole chicken yet and this puts me in the mind of actually doing it this year! Thanks!

    • Chef Mimi April 12, 2022 at 8:00 AM - Reply

      It’s not something one has to ever do, but it does work well!

  11. Tandy | Lavender and Lime April 12, 2022 at 5:13 AM - Reply

    I love the name of this dish! I see you spatchcock your chicken the same way we do. Makes for more even cooking which is a key factor. I shall share this with Dave as he is the BBQ expert in our house :)

    • Chef Mimi April 12, 2022 at 8:00 AM - Reply

      And I really do smack the thing with a heavy skillet to make it flat; it always bumps up a bit if I don’t. Makes me feel like Julia Child!

  12. Frank Fariello April 12, 2022 at 7:10 AM - Reply

    The French invented barbecue??? I’d love to hear that story. Must rely on a very specific definition of what barbecue means since cooking over a fire has been going on for a while now… Anyway, the dish does sound delicious. Actually the mustard and breadcrumb coating is one I’ve heard of before, perhaps from Julia Child I want to say? And btw, have you been watching the series? Good fun.

    • Chef Mimi April 12, 2022 at 7:59 AM - Reply

      Yes, I have been watching. That actress is amazing. The story of how it all started is fascinating. And you’re right. Maybe cavemen invented barbecue?!!!!

  13. For the Love of Cooking April 12, 2022 at 11:31 AM - Reply

    It looks perfectly cooked & so flavorful. Yum.

    • Chef Mimi April 12, 2022 at 4:25 PM - Reply

      It’s flavorful and oh so crunchy!

  14. Valentina April 12, 2022 at 3:21 PM - Reply

    I never thought about a spatchcocked chicken resembling a toad, but it sure does. Ha! The book sounds interesting and love the combination of flavors in this recipe — including the char from the grill. :-) ~Valentina

    • Chef Mimi April 12, 2022 at 4:25 PM - Reply

      I never did either!!! Probably it all ends up getting cut up!

  15. Raymund April 12, 2022 at 10:15 PM - Reply

    I love cooking on coals, they give so much flavours. Now I remember my grandma who used to cook everything with charcoal even stews and rice, those smoky flavour adds a lot of character like your recipe today.

    • Chef Mimi April 13, 2022 at 9:13 AM - Reply

      That’s very interesting! I can see meats and vegetables, but food in pots?!

  16. David Scott Allen April 13, 2022 at 8:07 AM - Reply

    Love the name if this recipe, too. I don’t know Ms. Loomis at all — I need to check her out. Beautifully done, Mimi. And am so impressed you got your chicken from D’Artagnan!

    • Chef Mimi April 13, 2022 at 9:12 AM - Reply

      Oh, we buy all of our meat online. We have to… This was a great recipe!

  17. kitchenriffs April 13, 2022 at 9:33 AM - Reply

    Never thought of it, but a spatchcocked chicken DOES look a bit like a toad! This is a terrific recipe — thanks.

    • Chef Mimi April 13, 2022 at 3:29 PM - Reply

      I know, I’d never thought about that before either!

  18. Ann Coleman April 13, 2022 at 11:17 AM - Reply

    That looks like an interesting recipe! And although the name is a bit strange, the result looks delicious.

    • Chef Mimi April 13, 2022 at 3:30 PM - Reply

      It’s really a pretty horrible name. But it got my attention!

  19. Kristy April 13, 2022 at 12:15 PM - Reply

    How could anyone not be interested in this dish just because of that name. Reading through and looking at the recipe, I’m so intrigued now and want to make this. And just in time for grilling season. What a great recipe, as always. Thanks so much for sharing Mimi.

    • Chef Mimi April 13, 2022 at 3:30 PM - Reply

      The name of the recipe certainly got my attention!

  20. Madalaine April 13, 2022 at 12:33 PM - Reply

    What a delightful review and recipe! Thank you for sharing it. I’ll have to try this one on my family!

    • Chef Mimi April 13, 2022 at 3:31 PM - Reply

      If they’re not mustard fans like my husband, cutting it with mayo did the trick!

  21. Thao @ In Good Flavor April 13, 2022 at 1:25 PM - Reply

    I think cooking spatchcock chicken on the grill must make it even more flavorful. I love all the charred bits and pieces !! This recipe looks amazing!

    • Chef Mimi April 13, 2022 at 3:32 PM - Reply

      My husband will only use coals. But I think the flavor is better than a gas grill.

  22. David @ Spiced April 14, 2022 at 6:35 AM - Reply

    Well that is a strange name indeed! I would’ve had to select this recipe, too…just for the name. I’m not sure about the logic of French inventing barbecue, but as you said it doesn’t matter one bit. I love to grill, and the idea of bringing French flavors to the grill is super intriguing! I don’t often think French and grill together in the same sentence. This chicken looks fantastic!!

    • Chef Mimi April 14, 2022 at 7:17 AM - Reply

      I know! It’s all very amusant! But the recipe is really good, and that’s what’s important!

  23. thatskinnychickcanbake April 14, 2022 at 11:48 AM - Reply

    Your blog looks beautiful!!! And this chicken recipe sounds terrific!

    • Chef Mimi April 15, 2022 at 7:24 AM - Reply

      It really is good. Full of flavor and crunch!

  24. Debra April 14, 2022 at 10:44 PM - Reply

    I think the cookbook looks very interesting. And this recipe is wonderful, Mimi. I love the combination of the mustard and bread crumbs. It seems surprising for the grill, and different. Nice!

    • Chef Mimi April 15, 2022 at 7:25 AM - Reply

      It is surprising for the grill, and I was completely surprised and happy that the whole topping mess didn’t end up inside the grill!

  25. Liz @ spades, spatulas, and spoons April 17, 2022 at 3:50 PM - Reply

    I love the name Mimi, looks delicious and I am surprised as well that everything didn’t end up going through the grates. I just heard about the Julia show and will take a look. My mother studies with her in France many years ago.

  26. StefanGourmet April 22, 2022 at 12:50 AM - Reply

    You are right this recipe has a great name. It also employs some great techniques. Like your description, especially the part about flabby chickens and whacking with a skillet 😃

    • Chef Mimi April 22, 2022 at 10:44 PM - Reply

      Thanks, Stefan!

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