Coop de grâce: Bill Granger's chicken dishes
Chicken is so deliciously versatile that it's the perfect way to feed the family any evening of the week, says our chef.
Sunday 13 January 2013
I'm often asked for ideas for weekday family meals that don't include chicken. Well, the truth is that chicken is the default dinner at my house as much as it is in anyone else's. It's so versatile, I'll often put it into my shopping basket before even having a plan for what to make with it.
Growing up, my family would often pick up a roast bird from one of the rotisserie-chicken shops that are a mainstay of suburban Australia. They're not as glamorous as the roast chickens you get from French butchers, who crank up the rotisserie for the "end of working day" crowd, but are a convenient, delicious and easy way to feed a family.
These days I'm more inclined to cook from scratch and mostly I'll buy chicken leg or thigh over the ever-popular chicken breast. The meat is so much more flavoursome and better value that it's a no-brainer really.
Bill's restaurant, Granger & Co, is at 175 Westbourne Grove, London W11, tel: 020 7229 9111, grangerandco.com
Chicken with cannellini beans and peppers
If ever you needed proof that the simplest of dishes can often be the best, then here you go. I love the way the cooking liquid from the roasting tin becomes a rich sticky sauce for the beans. So delicious.
2 rosemary sprigs, leaves chopped
2 thyme sprigs, leaves chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
½ tsp dried chilli flakes
Zest 1 lemon
8 chicken thighs, skin and flesh slashed to bone
1 tbsp olive oil
2 x 400g/13oz cans cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
2 roasted red peppers from a jar, cut into thick strips
200g/7oz cherry tomatoes
100ml/3½oz white wine
100ml3½oz chicken stock
Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas6. Mix the rosemary, thyme, garlic, chilli and lemon zest in a small bowl. Drizzle the chicken thighs with a little oil then rub the herb mix into the flesh. Season with salt and pepper. Tip the beans into a large, deep roasting tray, stir in the peppers, cherry tomatoes, white wine and stock. Lay the chicken thighs and any remaining herb mix on the beans. Cook for 45 minutes, topping up the dish with a splash of water if needed.
Chicken, barley and courgette soup
To keep things fresh, I've left a little bite in the courgettes and added a squeeze of lemon – the perfect lift to a homely chicken and barley soup.
1 tbsp olive oil
3 chicken legs
2 onions, sliced
2 garlic cloves, chopped
100g/3½oz pearl barley
2 sprigs thyme
1 bay leaf
800ml/1¼ pints good chicken stock
2 courgettes, cut into chunks
Handful flat-leaf parsley, chopped
Squeeze lemon juice
Heat the oil in a heavy-based pan over a medium-high heat. Season the chicken with salt and pepper and cook for 15 minutes or so, until golden-brown on both sides. Add the onion and garlic and continue to cook for 2 minutes. Tip in the barley, thyme and bay. Pour in the stock, cover and simmer for 25 to 30 minutes, until the barley is just tender and the chicken cooked through.
Remove the chicken with a slotted spoon to a plate and add the courgettes to the pan. Simmer for a further 5 minutes. Pull the chicken off the bone and discard any skin and bones. Stir the meat, parsley and squeeze of lemon into the pan. Ladle into bowls and serve.
Harissa chicken and quinoa salad
I've used boneless chicken thighs for this salad – they cook just as quickly as breast, but the result is much more succulent and satisfying.
6 boneless chicken thighs
2 tbsp rose harissa
200g/7oz Greek yoghurt
1 tbsp olive oil
1 fennel bulb, sliced and fronds reserved
2 lemons, cut into wedges
Bunch spring onions, sliced
8 radishes, thinly sliced
Handful mint leaves
Handful flat-leaf parsley leaves
Sumac, to serve
For the dressing
4 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp rose harissa
1 tsp ground cumin
Put the chicken into a bowl with the harissa, 2 tbsp of the yoghurt and the oil. Mix well and massage into the chicken. Set aside to marinate while you cook the quinoa according to packet instructions, adding the fennel to the pan 2 minutes before the end of cooking. Drain and tip into a large bowl.
Heat a griddle to hot. Cook the chicken skin-side down for 5 minutes, flip over and cook for a further 2 minutes, or until cooked through. Add the lemon wedges to the pan to char, then remove to a plate to rest. Throw the spring onions into the pan and cook for 1 minute, tip out and set aside.
To assemble the salad, mix together the dressing ingredients then toss them through the cooked quinoa, together with the radish, spring onion, herbs and fennel fronds. Add any resting juices from the chicken then slice the chicken up, pile on top of the quinoa and serve with the remaining yoghurt and some sumac over the top.
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