20 best chicken recipes: part 4 | Chicken (2024)

OFM's 20 best chicken recipes

The secrets of southern fried chicken and more from Claudia Roden and other top chefs chosen by Observer Food Monthly

Brad McDonald, Paula Wolfert, Claudia Roden, Marcella Hazan, Sam and Sam Clark

Thu 26 Feb 2015 03.00 EST

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Brad McDonald’s southern fried chicken

Serves 4, 1 leg (Comprising 1 thigh, 1 drumstick per person)

For the chicken
chicken legs 4, split
kosher salt 50g
water 1kg
buttermilk 500ml
vegetable oil enough to fill a small deep fat fryer or, fill a 4 litre pot with 2 litres of oil

For the dredge
flour 200g
rice flour 100g
corn flour 4 tbsp
cayenne ¼ tsp
garlic powder ½ tsp
onion powder ½ tsp
kosher salt 1 tbsp
paprika 1 tsp
baking powder 1 tsp

Make a brine from the salt and water and chill. Place the chicken inside the brine for 24 hours. Remove the chicken from the brine and place into a new container. Cover completely with the buttermilk for another 24-48 hours.

Heat the oil to 165C. Mix the dry ingredients together. Dredge the buttermilk chicken in the dry mix (note: we use a method called “shake and bake” whereby we literally shake the chicken in a bag with the dredge. This increases surface area through a rippling effect, giving us a more desirable outer crumb).

Gently lift into the fryer. Fry until golden brown with an internal temperature of 75C.

Brad McDonald is head chef at The Lockhart, London W1.

Paula Wolfert’s chicken stuffed with rice, almonds and raisins

Serves 4 to 6
chicken 1 x 1.8–2kg, preferably organic and free-range, neck and giblets reserved
Ceylon cinnamon stick 1 small
long-grain rice 140g
unsalted butter 120g
ras el hanout ½ tsp
coarse sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
whole blanched almonds 100g
sultanas 115g, soaked in warm water for 10 minutes and drained
red onion 1 large, halved and sliced
chopped garlic 1 tbsp
ground ginger ½ tsp
saffron water 3 tbsp (see below)
floral honey 1 tbsp, such as orange blossom, acacia or lavender

For the saffron water, do as many Moroccan cooks do, and prepare a small jar. Dry ½ teaspoon crumbled strands in a warm (not hot) pan. Crush again, then soak in 240ml hot water and store in a small jar in the refrigerator. This will keep for up to a week.

About 3 ½ hours before serving, bring the chicken to room temperature.

Rinse the giblets and neck, wrap in a muslin bag with the cinnamon stick and set aside.

Cook the rice in boiling water for 10 minutes; drain in a sieve, cool down under cold running water and drain again. Transfer to a bowl and add 30g of the butter, the ras el hanout, ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Toss to mix.

Toast the almonds in a dry pan, then crush them in a mortar or a food processor until crumbly. Add the almonds and sultanas to the rice.

Melt 30g of the butter in a large, deep, heavy-bottomed flameproof casserole. Add the onion, garlic, ginger, half the saffron water and 1 teaspoon salt, cover the casserole and cook over a medium heat for about 10 minutes or until the onion turns soft and golden.

Meanwhile, rinse the chicken well under running water. Rub the chicken with coarse sea salt, then remove and discard as much fat as possible.

Try not to tear the skin. Rinse off the salt and pat dry with kitchen paper.

Place the rice mixture in the cavity of the bird and close the opening at neck and rump, sewing securely using a poultry needle and heavy thread. Tuck the wings under the chicken and tie the legs together. Rub the chicken with 30g of the butter and the remaining saffron water.

Place the chicken breast side up over the onion in the casserole and add about 480ml water to half cover the chicken. Tuck in the muslin bag of giblets, neck and cinnamon stick and bring to a simmer. Cover and cook over a medium-low heat for 2 hours, basting the chicken every 30 minutes, or until it is very tender and the flesh is almost falling off the bone.

Carefully remove the chicken to a lightly buttered ovenproof serving dish, placing the chicken so it sits attractively in the dish. Cover and keep warm. Discard the muslin bag.

Preheat the oven to 200C/gas mark 6.

Quickly boil down the cooking liquid to about 240ml. Add the honey and the remaining 30g butter and boil down to a thick sauce.

Carefully cut away the string on the chicken and discard. Spoon the sauce over the chicken and place in the oven to brown for about 10 minutes. Serve.

From The Food of Morocco by Paula Wolfert (Bloomsbury, RRP £35). Click here to order it for £28 from the Guardian Bookshop

Claudia Roden’s chicken with chick peas

Serves 4–6
roasting chicken 1 large
oil 2 tbsp
onion 1, finely chopped
turmeric 1 tsp
chick peas 250g, soaked overnight
lemon juice of 1, or more
black pepper or a pinch of cayenne

Heat the oil in a saucepan or deep flameproof casserole (large enough to hold the chicken). Fry the chopped onion in the oil until soft and golden. Sprinkle with turmeric and mix well. Add the chicken and sauté gently, turning it until it is a dark yellow colour all over.

Add 600 ml (1 pint) of water, the soaked and drained chick peas, lemon juice and garlic, and season with salt and pepper.

Bring to the boil and simmer gently, covered, for 1 hour or longer, until the chicken is very tender, the chick peas soft, yellow and lemony, and the liquid very much reduced.

Adjust seasoning and serve, cut up into joints.

From A New Book of Middle Eastern Food by Claudia Roden (Penguin, RRP £25). Click here to order it for £20 from the Guardian Bookshop

Marcella Hazan’s chicken fricassee

Serves 4–6
chicken 1.35–1.8kg, cut into 6–8 pieces
vegetable oil 2 tbsp
flour spread on a plate
salt and freshly ground black pepper
onion 45g, very thinly sliced
sweet yellow or red pepper 1, seeds and core removed and cut into julienne strips
dry white wine 150ml
carrot 1, peeled and cut into thin discs
celery ½ stick, thinly sliced crosswise
garlic 1 clove, peeled, very finely chopped
tinned imported Italian plum tomatoes 170g, chopped coarsely, with their juice

Wash the chicken pieces in cold water and thoroughly pat dry with a tea towel or kitchen paper.

Choose a sauté pan that can contain all the chicken pieces without overcrowding them. Put in the oil and turn the heat to medium-high. When the oil is hot, turn the chicken in the flour, coat the pieces on all sides, shake off excess flour and slip them into the pan skin-side down. Brown that side well, then turn and brown the other side. Transfer to a warm plate and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

With the heat still on medium-high, put in the sliced onion and cook until it becomes coloured a deep gold, then add the wine. Let it simmer briskly for about 30 seconds while using a wooden spoon to scrape loose the browning residues on the bottom and sides of the pan. Return the browned chicken pieces to the pan, except for the breasts, which cook faster and will go in later.

Add the red or yellow pepper, carrot, celery, garlic and the chopped tomatoes with their juice. Adjust the heat to cook at a slow simmer and cover tightly.

After 30 minutes add the breast and continue cooking until the chicken thighs feel very tender when prodded with a fork and the meat comes easily off the bone. Turn and baste the chicken pieces from time to time while they are cooking.

When the chicken is done transfer it to a warm serving platter using a slotted spoon or spatula. If the contents of the pan are on the thin, watery side, turn the heat up to high under the uncovered pan and reduce them to an appealing density.

Pour the contents of the pan over the chicken and serve at once.

From The Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking by Marcella Hazan (Boxtree, RRP £30). Click here to order it for £24 from the Guardian Bookshop

Sam and Sam Clark’s piri piri chicken

Serves 4
white wine 200ml
Moscatel vinegar, or a good-quality white wine vinegar with a pinch of sugar 3 tbsp
dried red chillies 4 small, crumbled
freshly ground coriander 2 tsp
fresh bay leaves 8, finely chopped
Romano peppersor small bell peppers 2
red chillies 4 large
garlic cloves 2, crushed to a paste with 1 tsp salt
dried oregano or rosemary ½ tsp
sugar ½ tsp
smoked hot or sweet Spanish paprika ⅔ tsp
olive oil 4 tbsp
organic or free-range chicken drumsticks 4 or wings 12, skin-on
very reduced chicken stock 4 tbsp (optional)
Place a saucepan over a high heat and add the wine, vinegar, dried chillies, coriander and bay leaves. Boil until the liquid has reduced by half. Turn off the heat and let the flavours infuse.

Next blister the peppers and fresh chillies under a hot grill or over a barbecue or gas flame until the skin is black.

When cool enough, peel off the skin and deseed. Combine with the wine reduction and all the remaining ingredients except for the chicken and chicken stock. Blitz in a food processor or liquidiser or with a hand-held blender until smooth. Season.

Trim and score (or prick) the drumsticks or wings, on each side, to help the marinade penetrate beneath the skin. Coat the chicken with 8 tablespoons of the piri piri sauce. Marinate in the fridge for 3-4 hours or overnight.

When you are ready to eat, turn on the grill to a low to medium heat or, preferably, use a barbecue. Grill the chicken on all sides until light brown and slightly crisp. If the meat seems cooked through before it is crisp, turn up the grill a little.

You can either serve the chicken with extra piri piri on the side or add it to the reduced chicken stock, if using, and spoon over this spicy gravy.

From Morito by Sam & Sam Clark (Ebury Press, RRP £26). Click here to order it for £20.80 from the Guardian Bookshop


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