Saturday, January 17, 2015

Cilantro chicken

Endless chicken dishes, in this house. We eat little red meat at home - partly a budget thing, partly an availability thing. There is no organic or grassfed raise beef nearby. We can find humanely raised poultry.

So here's a one-dish wonder. Strong flavours. Don't be afraid of the anchovies, they add salty complexity. There is nothing fishy about this and they will be undetectable to anchovy-haters.

Serves Four, or two hungry persons, with leftovers

4 thighs
4 drumsticks
1 head garlic, cloves all chopped finely
1 bunch cilantro (coriander), well washed, stems chopped finely
6 anchovy fillets, chopped finely
Zest of 1/2 a lime
2 large limes' juice (approx. 3-4 Tbsps)
1 Tbsp Halaby pepper (also called Aleppo red pepepr, otherwise use dried or fresh chiles)

Heat oven to 450'F/220'C.

Here's the fun part: Whop each piece of chicken in half with a big kitchen knife or cleaver. Pick out any small bone shards (the harder you whop the fewer there'll be. Really. Lift the knife above your head and aim well. Visualize the knife where you want it to land...Whop!).

You can skip that step if you're in no mood for fun. But the idea is that the more exposed surfaces you have, the more flavour sticks to them.

Put the chicken pieces in a large bowl.

Add the chopped garlic, cilantro stems, anchovies, the lime juice, the zest and the pepper. Toss very well.

Transfer to a roasting dish or skillet with low sides (it should accommodate the chicken pieces in a single layer with a little space between each).

Roast for 1 hour to 1 hr 25-ish, depending on how brown the bits become. Turn the pieces after about 40 minutes. If the liquid in the pan is drying add a splash of water every now and then. You want delectable stickiness when done, not soup.

While the chicken is cooking chop the cilantro leaves very finely. Pu the leaves in a small bowl and add the juice of a lime, a large pinch of salt, a teaspoon of sugar and stir very well. Serve this as fresh green sauce.

I served this with some steamed couscous.


  1. Oh dear god(dess), this recipe sounds delicious!
    Thank you.

  2. Little nervous about the anchovies but if you say so....I'll give it a go!

    Xo J

  3. I made this dish last night and it was delicious. Thank you! The anchovies do indeed disappear in the finished product. I was a bit overzealous about the whopping so I ended up with small nuggets but that cut down the cooking time. I wasn't surprised that we loved it: in summer I often make tasty grilled chicken w/ hot and sweet dipping sauce from "Hot Sour Salty Sweet." That dish marinates chicken legs in a cilantro-garlic-fish sauce paste, some similar flavors from your recipe. However, since the preparation (and dipping sauce) are different there is not the luscious deliciousness of your dish. Thanks again.

    1. Thanks, Deirdre! That is very good to hear.

      I have made that Hot Sour Salty Sweet chicken many times and that must have been buzzing in my mind when I came up with this one. Then there is the Rao's parsley and lemon and garlic chicken - all in the same sort of family.

      Sounds like you whop good :-)

  4. Cooking on the stove, while I catch up with blog land. Smells super good.

    Lisa, London

  5. this recipe was a great inspiration, Marie. Unfortunately, caused by the absence of anchovies, which I used the day before for making sicilian pizza, I had to improvise quite a bit.
    a) no cilantro at home, just parsley. b) no anchovies. c) not enough limes/lemons, just one.
    So I substituted cilantro with rosemary, 1/2 dried, 1/2 fresh from the pot (fortunately, the climate on Vancouver Island allows most herbs to grow the whole year). I did not make a sauce, I chopped all the rosemary (around 1/3 of a cup) and made a marinade with olive oil, lime juice, a whole bulb of minced garlic, salt and pepper, and all the rosemary. And added as liquid some fresh orange juice, for the desired stickyness. Side dish: tiny, boiled potatoes. Nothing else. I was humming and making weird sounds during the whole dinner..... No sauce, no salad, the smell and tase of rosmary and garlic was incredible. I would say it became my favourite dish. Forever. I'll got some anchovies again and try your version next.
    I am cooking at the moment even more than usually, my Wirehaired Dachshund Fritz 'sailed on to the undying lands' last October, after 13 1/2 years being an exceptional healthy dog, and I am still in pieces.
    So, cooking it is - at the moment. Inge

    1. Well, you aced it with what you had, Inge. Well done. I am very sorry about Fritz. I know how that feels.


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