In Italy they have this wonderful technique for cooking chicken in a wood-burning oven under the weight of a hot brick. My humble variation is a bit more practical but still gets the skin beautifully crisp. Although I have to admit that it's not half as romantic…
4 chicken legs
1 tbsp olive oil
2 large rosemary sprigs, torn
For the relish
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 red chilli, roughly chopped
1 garlic clove, roughly chopped
4 thyme sprigs, chopped
Handful toasted almonds, chopped
2 large roasted red peppers, finely chopped
3 tbsp olive oil
Using a sharp knife, cut 3 or 4 slashes through the skin and flesh of the chicken legs. Take a large, heavy-based saucepan and fill it with water. Rub the chicken with the oil and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Heat a large, heavy-based frying pan over a high heat and lay in the chicken, skin-side down. S
it the pan full of water on the chicken, to weigh it down and flatten it. Reduce the heat to medium and cook for 15 minutes, turn the chicken over, weigh it down again with the pan of water and cook for a further 15 minutes.
Set the pan with water aside, scatter rosemary all over the chicken then turn it over, skin-side down. Sit the pan of water on it once more and cook for a further 10 to 15 minutes, until cooked through, with no signs of pink.
For the almond and red-pepper relish, toast the fennel k seeds in a small pan over a medium heat for 1 minute, until they release their aroma. Place in a mortar, add the chilli, garlic, thyme and a pinch of sea salt, and pound with a pestle until the garlic is crushed to a smooth paste. Tip into a bowl and stir in the chopped almonds and peppers. Stir in the olive oil.
Serve with the rosemary chicken, lemon wedges and an extra drizzle of olive oil if you like.