Crispy chicken bits with nutritious boiled vegetables on the side
• Boil the vegetables, adding black pepper, red chili flakes and a pinch of salt to the water. Allow them to cook for about 15 minutes, making sure they do not become too soft.
• Preheat the oven to 450o C.
• Season the chicken thighs with salt, pepper, red chili powder, mustard paste and coriander, rubbing the ingredients on both sides.
• Heat olive oil at a medium-high temperature in a large, oven-friendly cast-iron skillet. Once the oil is hot, cook the chicken for about five minutes until it is crisp and golden-brown.
• Transfer the skillet to the oven and bake the chicken, flipping it over about half-way through.
• In the meantime, fry the seasoned vegetables in the remaining olive oil at medium heat. Season the cooked vegetables with fresh basil leaves and pour in a little bit of the leftover residue water for added taste.
• Retrieve the chicken from the oven and garnish it with thyme, rosemary, chilies and remaining basil leaves.
• Serve the chicken and vegetables together, placed decoratively in a large plate.
Tips for the perfect crispy chicken skin
When it comes to food, there are few things loved as universally as the classic chicken roast. Many favour the succulent white meat of the breast piece; others the flavourful legs or wings. Regardless, any bit of roasted chicken is incomplete without a deliciously crispy, golden-bronze layer of skin on top. From simple three-step methods to stringent, three-day preparations, no wonder there are so many recipes detailing how to get the chicken just right. We can’t tell you which recipe is the best but we can dole out some advice on how to achieve the perfect skin. Read on some quick tips for some finger-lickin’ chicken roast.
1. Your first step towards tasty meat, no matter what you are cooking, should always be high-quality, clean and healthy animals. We all love an indulgent meal but not at the expense of our health!
2. For maximum crispness, the skin on your bird has to be dry and remain dry. Leftover water will create steam which ultimately, inhibits crisping. Therefore, prep the chicken a day prior to cooking but dry it thoroughly inside and out once it has been rinsed.
3. Separating the skin from the meat also helps in crisping. For this, you should gently run your fingers between the skin and breast meat, being careful not to tear it. Many cooks add butter in between for extra taste but the ingredient contains water and creates moisture.
4. It is advisable to retrieve the chicken from the refrigerator at least half an hour prior to roasting. Different recipes recommend different styles of roasting — in pans or on racks, etcetera — but every recipe asks for adequate airflow around the meat. If you’re using a rack, make sure to start cooking breast-side down for a good crisp.
5. Unfortunately, the gas ovens we all use are the least helpful when it comes to crispiness. It is recommended that the chicken is cooked at a high temperature for it to cook through. However, it is always great to keep tabs on the internal temperature in the oven with a chef’s thermometer, lest the meat is overcooked.
6. Many professionals follow the age-old technique of pulling the chicken out about 10 minutes earlier. The bird will continue to cook once it is out of the oven as well.
Published in The Express Tribune, Ms T, July 12th, 2015.