Rampant anthropomorphism aside, the general idea for this recipe is that it’s a basic quick dinner which you customise according to what’s in your house. Chicken thighs are cheap (I always buy reduced, yellow sticker ones due to savage internal guilt about food waste) and they have the best flavour and meat ratio out of all the other joints of chicken. Don’t @ me. There’s not really a defined set ingredients for this apart from chicken, salt, pepper and oil – it’s a total ‘you do you, hun’ stonker of a recipe. The thing is, if you start with tasty ingredients at the beginning, you’ll end up with tasty things at the end. I like to keep a roughly mediterranean feel but it’s truly your choice: this is just the paint by numbers and I’ll let you choose your colour scheme.
The only thing you’ll need equipment-wise is a half decent baking tray, like something you’d make brownies or flapjacks in. The portion sizes are also up to you; cook times are give to feed 4 but adjust the time as you feel necessary.
Splish splash splosh, let’s devour tasty nosh.
Guarantee crispy skin
Ok, so everyone likes crispy skin, right? Whatever bit of chicken you’ve chosen to anoint your dinner table, you’ll want to take out of the fridge, and give a very generous dusting of salt to, about an hour before you cook it. This is called a dry brining and makes your meat taste fantastic as the salt is magical, making it crispy on the outside and moist and flavoursome in the middle. Un tres importante step but if you do decide to skip it cos you’re short on time, that’s ok; just do it next time and you really will notice the difference. Salt it anyway, for the love of god.
Choose a palette for your palate
When you’re ready to cook your chicken, pat off any excess moisture from the skin with kitchen roll, and then rub with olive oil. Season with black pepper initially and then any two or three of dried rosemary, thyme, marjoram, sage, oregano, mint, dried basil, tarragon or crushed fennel seeds. I like basil, oregano and crushed fennel for an Italian style bobjob but Greek style could be mint, oregano and thyme, whereas classic English might be rosemary, thyme and sage. Simon and Garfunkel would be proud. You can also choose to mix them all up like a boss. Make sure the seasoning is rubbed into every bit of the chicken for max flavour, including underneath the thighs near the bone.
Prepare your tray of goodies
The next step is to choose what you want to eat all your lovely chicken with, and what should surround the meat in the roasting pan as it cooks and take on some great flavour. If I’m doing a full on roast dinner, I like to cook my veg separately with lots of butter, fresh parsley and white wine rather than clutter up the roasting tray with all the carrots n parsnips n tatties etc – hard veg always takes longer to cook than you think. However, a select handful of new potatoes, parboiled, would fit snugly around your chimken if you’re only cooking for one or two and it’s not a big occasion. Always a winner, however, are cherry tomatoes nestled between the chunks of meat, in addition to black olives, a sprig or two of rosemary, and a splash of wine – red or white will do. Other suggestions are sliced red onions- use them as a trivet for the chicken – and also broccoli or halved brussel sprouts if you’re on a health-kick. This bit is a bit of a free-for all so add what you like, but make sure a) you don’t use veg that’s too big so it won’t cook through and b) don’t overcrowd the tray so your chicken can’t brown.
I LOVE cheese. Everyone knows this about me – cheese is one of the best human inventions alongside the sock and the stick-thing-ball-picker-upper that you throw a dog’s tennis ball with to make it go further so that you don’t touch it. Anyway, cheese is lush – we love to see it – so don’t scrimp here. I have used feta, mozzarella, cheddar, parmesan and pecorino on separate occasions for this recipe, although all at once might actually be curious too. However, because the chicken is a long-ish cook time, I like to add any melty cheese like cheddar or mozzarella in the last 10 minutes of cooking, and here’s the thing; in little oozy nuggets around the chicken, not necessarily on top. You can do what you like though – I just think the cheese interferes with some of the crispy skin magic if you use melty stuff. For the harder cheeses, I grate them directly over everything in the tray so you get an even layer of crisp on top of everything. I also nestle feta in at the beginning of cook time because it takes on a lovely golden-brown hue. Lushness.
The actual cooking
Give the tray a final grinding of black pepper and a final sprinkle of salt. Whack it in the oven at 190 degrees centigrade for 35 minutes (for 4 thighs, 3-4 breasts, or 6 legs) – they should be just done by then; check that the juices are running clear just to be safe. Rest for a few minutes, and then serve with rice or bread to soak up all the gorgeous juices coming out.
Scone gravel beef.
And don’t throw away those bones!! I have a recipe which uses them coming up on the next post.