I’m putting my hands up and admitting to being a bit of a chilli freak – not one of those masochistic show-offs who punish their taste buds/guts/sweat glands by seeing just how hot I can take things; instead I’m rather relaxed, enjoying the subtle flavours found in different types of chillies and delighting in a little overall heat, rather than requiring a tongue made of asbestos to even attempt getting close to the food I cook.
Lately, my obsession has focused on the dried, smoky, fruity chillies so redolent of Mexican cookery; think anchos, chipotles, guajillos – with access to great online stockists such as Spice Mountain, Panchos in the Arndale Market and even my local, provincial supermarket getting in on the act; I’ve had lots of opportunity to sate my chilli fix.
This following recipe is a favourite of cold days when I need a little warming comfort – the chicken goes really well with steamed greens, brown rice, jacket potatoes, home baked beans (recipe here), sweetcorn, a big glass of bourbon on the rocks… But I’ll let you find your own perfect pairing and not be overly prescriptive in what you should be eating this with.
NB I use chicken on the bone as it has much more taste than breast; plus the extra fat lends itself to surviving the heat of the oven. You could use breast here, but reduce the cooking time as needed.
Sticky chipotle bourbon chicken
Serves 2 – Prep 5 min – Marinating – 20 mins plus – cooking time 30-40 minutes
• 4 pieces of chicken, thighs and drums (up the quantities for the marinade if you are using more pieces) – I always use free range organic chicken; it tastes better, it’s better for the environment and I like to know the things I’m eating have at least had a sort of good life before they get killed for my plate
• 100 ml cooking olive oil
• Big grinding of black pepper
• 1 heaped tsp chipotle paste (use less/more to vary the spice levels to your liking)
• Good shake of Worcestershire sauce
• 2 tblsp honey – use runny if you have it, I just used up some crystallised set honey as I wasn’t going to use it on toast, once it was in the oil it was fine
• 1 tsp dried thyme
• 50ml bourbon – I used Woodford, but you can use something Jack Daniels or something similar
• Sea salt
1. Bring the chicken out of the fridge and up to room temperature before you use it (about 30 mins) – you should do this with every meat you cook with to ensure it cooks properly.
2. Put all the ingredients bar the chicken and the salt in a bowl big enough to accommodate the chicken and mix to make your marinade. Taste to see if it’s spicy/sweet enough for your tastes – always taste BEFORE you add the chicken and NEVER taste a marinade which has had raw meat in. Remember that it will have no salt in, but don’t add any now.
3. Put the chicken in the marinade bowl one by one. As you put each piece in, rub the marinade into every nook and cranny of the chicken, I like to rub it under the skin, so that all the chicken meat gets flavoured.
4. Once all the chicken is in the bowl, wash your hands as they are covered in raw chicken. Put the bowl to one side on the work top and cover it with cling film, leave for a minimum of 20 mins (max marinating time should be over night/a day). If you are going to leave it for more than 30 mins, put the bowl in the fridge. When you take it back out of the fridge, make sure you bring the meat up to room temperature before you cook it.
5. When you are ready to cook the chicken, heat the oven to 200c. Place the chicken thighs skin side down in a roasting tin/dish (the dish should just accommodate the chicken pieces, without leaving too much space or ramming them in too tightly). It doesn’t matter how you place the drumsticks as they have skin all the way round.
6. Sprinkle over a little sea salt and place in the oven for 25 mins.
7. After 25 mins turn all the chicken pieces over (thighs skin side up) and sprinkle with a little more salt – check to see how done they are and how long more they will need.
8. After 35 mins check to see if they are cooked through and serve when they are ready. To serve take the chicken pieces out of the dish and put on plates with sides of your choice. Drizzle the chicken with the sticky, smoky, spicy juices from the bottom of the roasting dish as they are delicious ad shouldn’t be wasted!