Delicious Chicken With A Gourmet Twist
As you can see, this first recipe works equally well with legs as thighs – the photo was taken through halogen oven glass so apologies for poor quality – but checkout the color of the chicken skin!
Originally from a British cook, Nigel Slater, this fast and very easy Sticky Lemon Chicken is one of the most moreish ways to cook chicken and is described by my kids (and their friends) as finger lickin’ good.
I have no idea how I came by the recipe but I’m so pleased I did, it really is a family favorite and one that never loses its wow factor.
Thighs and legs work best, probably because the marinate gets into the meat better and time wise they cook to perfection inside, just as the skin is beginning to caramelize and blacken deliciously on the outside.
By the way, don’t discard all the marinade, tip about half into the pan and let the chicken cook in it – as it reduces during cooking, the lemon or lime flavor intensifies.
Mine are cooking right now as this is written and they smell divine – there’s a little greyhound who hasn’t taken her eyes off the glass oven either!
I always try and set the chicken to soak up the marinade before leaving for school in the morning, so it can be tipped into a pan and roasted without any waiting around.
If you can’t do that then try and leave it for at least an hour before cooking.
As pictured, you can vary the ingredients to match what’s in the store cupboard – swop honey for maple syrup or lemon for lime, it will taste just as good. If you hate pepper, mustard or garlic, leave them out, equally add more if that’s your taste.
* 1 teaspoon black peppercorns – more if you love pepper
* 2 lemons or 3 limes, the juice and ½ a tsp zest
* Good squeeze or two of runny honey or maple syrup
* Good teaspoon French style grainy mustard
* 2 large garlic cloves, crushed
* 6 large chicken thighs or 4 legs bone in and skin on
* Sea salt, to personal taste just prior to cooking
Making The Marinade
Put the peppercorns into a pestle and mortar and grind until roughly crushed – I crush the peppercorns and garlic together to save time, the peppercorns help breakdown the garlic and stop it whooshing out of the dish at high speed.
In a bowl add the peppercorns to the lemon juice, honey, garlic and mustard then and mix well.
Place the chicken pieces into a plastic bag or container and pour the lemon and honey mixture over the chicken – mix it about well.
Now, squeeze out all the air you can and leave to marinate for as long as possible – obviously if leaving all day or overnight, place in the refrigerator, if using quickly don’t chill down too much.
Preheat Oven To 200C/400F/Gas 6
Sprinkle with sea salt according to taste and cook in the hot oven for 45 minutes, turning halfway through cooking so that the chicken pieces become wonderfully caramelized and sticky – I start with the skin side down and finish with it under the heat.
Serve, then hide any leftovers, or they’ll go before you can say ‘chicken’!
* Tip – Never add salt to marinades, salt toughens meat and poultry which is the last thing you want. Just think for a moment about how we used to preserve all our food!
Add your salt just before cooking. With recipes using citrus juice you can leave it out and let diners salt their own food after tasting, often lemons or limes reduce the need for salt altogether and you can easily end up overdoing it – they can always add more.
Great Party Finger Food
Delicious served with coleslaw and salad in the summer, more substantial served with potato fries or buttery mash and roasted tomatoes, a great winter warmer and reminder of summer.
Pictured last, here is dinner served with Parmesan potato fries – I cheated with these fries, they’re made from leftover boiled new potatoes, roasted in the halogen oven for ten minutes and with a little Parmesan sprinkled over just before serving. As for the salad, it was a mistake putting it out on the table. By the time the chef and camera arrived, so had the hungry hoards and there wasn’t much left.
These make excellent party finger food – cooked in advance and chilled, the flavor seems to intensify. Having a barbeque? Don’t leave these off the menu!
Hot colors and vibrant flavor belies the simplicity of this chicken thigh recipe which like the Sticky Lemon Chicken recipe above, is child friendly with no hot spices or chilli – though you can always add it if that’s your thing.
Prep 10 minutes – cook time 40 – 50 minutes
6 large chicken thighs or 4 legs bone in and skin on
To Coat The Chicken
1 tbsp flour
Good pinch of salt
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
1 tsp paprika (smoked paprika if you can get it)
1 large or 2 small onions peeled and thinly sliced
Good splosh of olive oil – about a tablespoon
2 fat cloves of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
½ – 1 teaspoon peppercorns (to taste)
2 -3 yellow or orange peppers – mixed is great
2 – 3 red peppers
½ cup of sliced olives (optional)
2 tbsp tomato puree or pasata sauce
2 tablespoons chicken or veg stock
2 tbsp Parmesan cheese either grated or flaked to serve (optional)
In a largish bowl mix the flour, good pinch of salt, ground black pepper and smoked paprika and toss the chicken thighs in the mixture until well covered.
Heat half the olive oil in a pan, preferably non-stick or stainless steel and when the oil is hot, fry the chicken thighs on both sides – about 4 minutes each side. When golden brown, remove from the pan and set aside.
Add the peppers and bring back to heat, then cook for another 5-10 minutes.
Stir the tomato paste or pasata sauce and the stock, then return the chicken to the pot.
Sprinkle the olives over the chicken and into the peppers below then reduce the heat and simmer gently for about 30 minutes, depending on the size of your chicken thighs – if using legs then cook for about 45 minutes then check.
Serve with Jasmine rice, fries or sauteed potatoes – also delicious with new season baby potatoes and optionally sprinkle the Parmesan over moments before serving.
Roast the peppers gently in the oven for 20 minutes while the chicken is browning for a more intense flavor. You can add tomatoes as I did here.
Use a spoonful of finely ground mixed herbs with the flour coating – really crush them up between your fingers when adding to the flour.
Add one or two thinly sliced zucchini into the pot, these will cook down into the mix and thicken it while giving the gravy a lovely silky sheen
You’ll see I’ve removed the chicken skin – I don’t like it unless burned to a crisp on the barbeque or done in the Baby George Rotisserie – now that’s chicken skin worth eating.
As my husband is diabetic and has to avoid salt, I left the olives out – I don’t always because I love them and they add a depth of flavor to this dish.
More bone in chicken thigh recipes to follow shortly – so check back.
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