Something different from the super fussy baking: this is the recipe which jolted me out of a cooking slump. Very easy, not too many ingredients, lots of flavour. It’s the silky, rich peppers which are the star here. Chicken joints are braised with them and no additional liquid: together, they release the perfect amount of deeply flavourful syrupy juice, ready to be soaked up with whatever starch you like.
It’s perfect as it is, seasoned with salt, pepper, roughly squashed garlic cloves and some fresh chilli. I’ve also enjoyed this with paprika and a little chopped preserved lemon (no reason why zest + juice of fresh lemon wouldn’t work, either). These really emphasised the bright yet mellow peppers, but are extras I used only because I had them around the kitchen: the dish, as written, is deeply flavourful. It’s encouraged me to try just braises using the moisture given off by vegetables instead of adding extra broth and such.
Also, I keep the chicken skin on because I am a pervert who likes soft chicken skin (plus the fat + gelatine only improves the juices), but it is by no means necessary.
ONE POT CHICKEN WITH PEPPERS
Serves 2 – 4, depending on how much chicken you like to eat. This keeps really well for several days, if not a week–in fact, hope for leftovers! One of those dishes that reheat easily and perfectly + tastes better.
If you can find a pan to hold all the peppers, you could definitely scale this up.
4 bone-in chicken thighs and/or drumsticks, ideally the slightly fancier free-range kind, skinned or not as you prefer
3 cloves garlic, squashed flat
6 – 8 red, yellow, or orange bell peppers, deseeded and cut into bite-size pieces
2 medium red chillies, deseeded and thinly sliced (I used 1 finely chopped red bird’s eye chilli with seeds and it was the perfect mild heat for us)
Salt and pepper to taste
2 – 3 tbsp olive oil, less if you use skin-on chicken
optional seasonings: A spoonful of finely chopped perserved lemon (size of spoonful up to you), paprika to taste (mine: generous)
Rub a good amount of salt and pepper into the chicken pieces.
Let a heavy-based pan heat up over a medium-high heat for a good couple of minutes. If your chicken is skin-on, put them skin-side down in the dry pan. If skinned, add a drop of oil to a heavy-based pan and fry the chicken over a medium-high heat for 3 – 4 minutes, giving the flesh a chance to colour. (Because I know my chicken has a resilient skin and can take longer cooking, I cook the pieces for 5 minutes each side to really render and brown.)
Remove the browned chicken from the pan while you get the vegetables started.
In the same pan, fry the chopped peppers, squashed garlic cloves and chilli in the rest of the oil over a medium heat for 10 minutes, stirring often, until the peppers have coloured and begun to release their juices.
Add the chicken joints to the pepper mixture, pressing them down into the vegetables so the meat is in contact with the base of the pan. I like to season as I go along and add a light sprinkling of salt and pepper at this stage, plus the preserved lemon and paprika, if using. Turn the heat down to low and cook for 30 minutes with the lid on, turning the joints halfway through.
(If, like mine, you know your hob is intense so dishes tend to scorch even on the lowest heat and you don’t have a heat diffuser, you can add the merest film of water at this halfway point to help things along–but I haven’t always needed it; usually it’s full of juice at this point.)
Check the meat is cooked through and tender enough to be easily pierced before seasoning to taste. Serve with rice or soft-cooked polenta. I’d also love to try soaking this up with bread or shredded and tossed into pasta.