Really?

Seriously. Does anyone ever say that?

Lamb, yes. Steak, certainly. But a craving for chicken? Does anyone ever really feel like chicken?

I think I can count the great chicken dinners I’ve had on one hand. Thomas Keller’s roast chicken at Bouchon. Brined chicken with bread salad at Zuni Cafe in San Francisco. The three shot chicken at Neil Perry’s Spice Temple in Sydney. Then  it’s just a blancmange of muffled memories.

Most of the time chicken is a blank canvass I put into the trolley because I’m chasing some protein and haven’t had inspiration strike. It’s classic beginning of the week-I can’t be arsed fare.

Which is exactly what happened last night. There they were. Four organic, free range, happy camper chicken thighs, sitting quietly in the fridge. I like thighs because I think they have more flavour and I hate how thready breasts can get. I also don’t mind the odd sticky roasted drumstick, but The Hungry One abhors having to work too hard to get at his food (how his love of ribs equates with that, I’m still not sure). It’s the contradictions in him that make him inherently fascinating. 

So there they were, four fat thighs, gently mocking me. I needed something I could cook in one tray ( I wasn’t feeling the love for washing up). I needed something that was going to tackle the tide of condiments that is swelling in my fridge (I have no idea how I got that many jars of mustard in there).

And after a week of cheese and potatoes in Switzerland, I needed something carb free that would go happily with greens.

So this is what we ate.

I’m not sure I’m ever going to crave it, or write a really bad jingle about it,  but it might find its way into a more permanent spot on the dinner rotation. 


Mustard chicken with chickpeas, broccoli and almonds

The dijon, lemon, garlic and olive oil marinade on the chicken gives them a slightly sticky crust, with  the mustard bringing a bit of a piquant kick. Roasting the brocolli and the chickpeas is a trick not unlike roasting cauliflower. It brings out the nuttier flavour of both- with the added benefit of having one less pan to wash up.

You could serve this in neat sections on a plate, with the green salad on the side, like we did.

Or else you could let it all cool slightly and jumble it into a big salad bowl for a warm summer salad, to be eaten with a fork in one hand and a glass of pink wine in the other.  Whatever floats your boat. Or makes you flap your elbows.

Serves 2

Equipment
1 lasagne tray/ roasting tray. A lemon zester.

Shopping/foraging
4 chicken thighs
1 handful of brocollini stems or broccoli florets
Half a tin of chickpeas (use the rest to make hummous the next day)
1 red onion
1 tablespoon of dijon mustard
Juice of half a lemon
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 handful of flaked almonds
1 handful of chopped flat leaf parsley
2 cloves of garlic, grated or crushed
1 teaspoon of capers (optional)
Two big handfuls of salad leaves
Red wine vinegar and olive oil to dress the salad

Here’s how we roll


1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees.
2. Make a dressing/marinade out of the garlic, dijon, olive oil and lemon juice. Pour it over the chicken and let it sit while you get the other bits and pieces ready.
3. Chop the flat leaf parsley. Sprinkle that and the toasted almonds over the top of the chicken.

4. Nestle around the edges a red onion, cut into eighths and the handful of brocolli cut into stems.
Drizzle with a little olive oil and sprinkle with a little salt. Put into the oven to bake for 40 minutes.

 5. Pull the chicken out and put it on a plate rest (check that the juices run clear when it’s punctured with a knife. You can also slice it to make sure that the centre isn’t still pink). If it’s not cooked return it all to the oven for another 5-10 minutes. When it’s done,  rinse the chickpeas and add them to the tray.

6. Return the onions, broccoli and chickpeas to the oven for another 20 minutes so the onion really wilts and the chickpeas crisp.

7. If you fancy an additional punch of flavour make a quick rustic tapenade by chopping a teaspoon of capers with the zest of half a lemon and another handful of flat leaf parsley.  Sprinkle that over the top of the chicken, chickpeas, broccolini and onion.

8. Serve with some mixed leaves dressed with red wine vinegar and olive oil. And a glass of pink wine.