When my children ask me what I'm going to make for dinner, I usually give a generic answer, as in chicken or beef or pork. I am not always prepared with a meal plan, especially in the morning (which is when the question usually pops up).
Chicken is the usual sacrifice in my kitchen. It is the easiest to cook and no one says no to chicken. The key to making a great tasting chicken dish is to get a good quality chicken. It is very difficult to make a tasty dish out of a tasteless chicken. I feel as if I've cooked chicken a million times and they still expect something new and exciting.
With all my been-there-done-that chicken ideas, I sometimes hit a blank wall. When that happens, I do the most logical thing: grind salt and pepper on it. Then I usually get ideas. What is done to it next will make all the difference.
I decided on cooking it chicken diavolo style: seared, baked then drizzled with garlic and chilli butter. Diavolo means devil in Italian and diablo means the same in Tagalog. Devilled dishes have a characteristic fiery kick.
The seared, browned and blistered chicken would taste good already. But since I was already at it, I pushed the boat further by making a butter sauce.
It is not any old nor simple garlic chilli butter that went on this chicken. In Asian tradition, sauces has to be well flavoured, exciting and mouthwatering. Fish sauce, lime juice, chillies, garlic, spring onions, honey and chopped coriander leaves joined the butter to make a sauce for the chicken. There are a lot of wicked ways to describe this dish but I won't proceed. The best words for this dish is the oxymoron devilishly good.
Ingredients for the chicken:
1 whole medium chicken, split in the middle
1 tsp. salt
2 tbsps. olive oil + 1 tbsp. butter
Season the chicken halves with the salt.
Pre-heat the oven to 350° F/ 180° C.
Heat up a frying pan (preferably cast iron) and when very hot add the oil and butter. Put the chicken halves in and press down with a metal spatula. Pan fry the chicken until browned, about 3 minutes on each side. This stage is the key to this dish. The chicken should be well seared, browned and blistered before it goes in the oven.
Transfer the chicken pieces to a roasting pan with a rack, adding half an inch of water to the pan so the drippings don't burn. Bake for 50 minutes to one hour, just until done.
Drizzle with the spiced butter.
1/2 c. butter
1 tbsp. chopped red chilli
1 1/2 tbsp. garlic
juice and rind of 1 lime
2 tbsps. of spring onions, cut into rings
2 tsps. fish sauce
1 tsp. light soy sauce
2 tbsps. honey
1/2 tsp. black pepper
2 tbsps. chopped coriander leaves
Heat up the butter in a sauce pan. Take off the heat and add the chilli, garlic, lime zest and juice, spring onions, fish sauce, soy sauce, honey and black pepper all at once and stir.
You can chop the chicken into serving pieces if you prefer. Drizzle with the spiced butter. Sprinkle with coriander leaves.
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