I remember, when I first bought this book, many years hence, I became slightly obsessed by this recipe (which is actually presented as five flavour variations on the same method) and made it often. One of the great things about it, aside from the fact that what is required is virtually idiot-proof and the results are so delicious, is that it really forces you to learn what cooked chicken looks and feels like, providing as it does quite vague cooking times. Once I’d done it a few times, I could confidently give the chicken a squeeze (as instructed; the method tells us to “…pinch it, between thumb and forefinger. Firm and springy – it is probably ready, soft and squashy – almost certainly not.“) and, without any probing or cutting, be quite confident that everything within was fully cooked.
Ideally, for a recipe like this, one would fire up the charcoal grill but, relatively early in the year as it is, I opted for the domestic overhead grill instead. I mixed together a couple of tablespoons of honey, one of soy sauce (for basically all cooking, unless otherwise specified, I use Kikkoman Japanese soy sauce, which seems to sit perfectly between dark and light in a way that suits cooking particularly well) and one of lemon juice, and whisked them together, adding a crushed clove of garlic and some salt and pepper as I did so. I brushed some chicken legs all over with the mixture, then pushed them under the grill, trying to put a good 10cm of distance between the chicken and the heat source; there’s a danger, when cooking chicken on the bone that the outside burns to a crisp as the meat that clings to the bone remains raw, so it’s necessary to regulate the exposure to heat as much as possible.
Brushing every five or so minutes with the honey soy mixture and turning after 10, the chicken should be pretty much cooked through after 20 or 30 minutes, pleasingly dappled with dark spots of caramelised honey and golden crispiness. It’ll quite happily sit on the side, or in a warm oven for 10 minutes or so whilst you lay the table and assemble the rest of your dinner.
We ate it with a wholegrain and broccoli pilaf, a mango and chilli salad (which I made off the top of my head, mostly with the intention of using a mango in the fruit bowl that was not long for this world, but happens to be virtually identical to this recipe, minus the chicken. I highly recommend making this to accompany pretty much any chicken-based meal, especially a deeply flavoured one like this) and an unashamedly shop-bought Lime Aioli (of the Eriks brand. Brits, you used to be able to get this from Ocado, but it seems to have disappeared. I’m sure you’ll think of something.)
This kind of meal always makes me feel faintly hopeful, especially as the days extend and the sun spends a little more time with us with each passing day. It’s also, sides included, a bonafide 30 minute dinner, the type of which seems to be vastly more than the sum of its parts and effort.
Buy your own copy of Nigel Slater’s ‘Real Fast Food’ HERE.