Listen up chook fans. If you don’t yet own Diana Henry’s book ‘A Bird In The Hand’, I’d urge you to invest in it, pronto! It’s full of wonderful recipes from around the globe for poultry that offer something a little different, yet can be knocked up during the week very easily. There are so many that we want to experiment with, one being her version of Coq au vin, using white wine instead of red – ‘Poulet Bonne Femme’.  Another that interests me is Chicken with Marsala, Olives & Blood Oranges. We have a big bottle of Marsala to get using up…

Yesterday I decided to axe our usual curry night in favour of this dish. I’m so glad I did. For some reason I was craving lemon and fresh herbs, plus I knew the husband would be very pleased to come home to a nice crispy chicken thigh or two. It came together well and with little preparation needed, which gets a big thumbs up on a Friday evening…

To make our version of this dish (serves four) you will need: 

– 1kg of bone-in/skin-on chicken thighs 

– 8 shallots (peeled/haves length ways)

– Four garlic cloves (peeled/finely chopped)

– One tablespoon of olive oil

– Five anchovies (drained/roughly chopped)

– Three dried chillies (finely chopped)

– Three to four sprigs of fresh rosemary 

– 75ml of white wine (or you could use dry vermouth)

– Juice and zest of half a large lemon (finely grated)   

– Salt and black pepper 

– Flat lead parsley (finely chopped) – optional 

Method:

– Heat the oven to gas mark 4/180C.

– Season the thighs on both sides well then heat the olive oil in a shallow pan that can be used both on the hob, then in the oven. Add the meat and brown on both sides – no need to cook through, just looking for colour here. 

– Transfer the chicken to a warmed plate. Pour off all remaining fat in the pan apart from one tablespoon. Add the shallots and cook for a few minutes to colour, then introduce three quarters of the garlic, the chilli and anchovies. Stir well and reduce the heat to low, cooking for a further four minutes, pressing the anchovies down so that they disintegrate. 

– Next pour in the wine, lemon juice and rosemary. Bring to the boil then take off the heat. Lay the chicken back in the pan on top of the shallots (skin side up) and pour any meat juices from the plate into the pan too. 

– Place in the oven and cook uncovered for 40 minutes. Check that the chicken is throughly cooked through before serving and the juices run clear when pierced near the bone. Taste for seasoning and adjust to your liking (the anchovies should provide enough so go easy on the salt). 

– Note: If you prefer your chicken very crispy like us, finish off by putting the pan under the grill for around 5 minutes on a medium heat, but don’t leave it unattended as it will burn quickly and easily ! 

– Mix the remaining garlic and lemon zest together, give it a final chop and then sprinkle over the top of the chicken, followed by a little fresh parsley if you like.

This meal was a real pleasure to eat. To our delight, you also get a good amount of  sauce/ juice left in the pan to pour over the chicken, which is beautifully flavoured by the lemon, rosemary and anchovies. The latter, especially, gives it a gutsy depth of flavour. We like our chicken very  crispy, so opted to pop it under the grill at the end. This finished it off nicely, along with a little fresh parsley (I’d seen this added in another review – I’m big on the herbs at the moment as I’m sure you’ve realised) and the lemon zest/garlic, which incidentally, doesn’t overpower it at all. A lovely touch. A splendid dish. 

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