Three Pepper Chicken comes from a recipe typed by my mother on her old manual typewriter. I came across it while cleaning out some files, finding it was like discovering buried treasure. Mom had a cooking school in Florida back in the 70’s, but I don’t think this is from her classes. Judging from the folds, my mother must have mailed it to me. We shared a love of food and cooking. I don’t remember ever making it, which makes me sad. I missed an opportunity for the memories of a shared conversation about the recipe and the evening on which it might have been served. She would have wanted to hear all about the guests and the menu.
Three Pepper Chicken
This chicken was destined for our BBQ on a warm Friday night. It was too hot to spend time in the kitchen as we don’t have air conditioning. If your weather doesn’t cooperate, you could easily roast it in your oven. That’s how the recipe reads and my mom must have made it.
I combined her suggestion to spatchcock the chicken, cutting off the backbone and flattening it (see video), with opening up the thighs for faster cooking. You can see more about this technique in my post about 45 minute roast chicken. The chicken does look a little pornographic but it immensely speeds the cooking time and ensures that the thighs are cooked at the same time as the breast meat. This method also has the advantage of letting you rub the three pepper seasoning into the thigh meat and the entire breast. The flavor is amazing!
Three Pepper Chicken
The three peppers are sweet paprika, black pepper, and Szechuan peppercorns. Only the additions of a little salt and olive oil are needed.
- 1 chicken
- 1 1/2 tablespoon sweet paprika
- 1/2 tablespoon coarsely and freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 tablespoon Szechuan peppercorns, bruised and crushed slightly (I used a mortar and pestle but you could put them in a plastic bag and hit them with a rolling pin)
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- Olive oil – about 1 tablespoon
- Preheat your BBQ or oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C). If making it in your BBQ, set it up for indirect heat (the central burners off or coals pushed to the side)
- Mix the paprika, black pepper, Szechuan peppercorns and salt in a small bowl.
- Coat the chicken, inside and out, with the spices. Drizzle with olive oil.
- If cooking in the oven:
- lightly oil a roasting pan just large enough for the chicken to lay flat, skin side up.
- Press any remaining spice mixture into the skin.
- Roast in the center of the oven for 30-45 minutes until juices run clear. The time will depend on the size of your chicken.
- If cooking on the BBQ:
- Clean and lightly grease the grill.
- Rub any remaining spice mixture into the skin.
- Place the chicken skin side up over the area of your BBQ where there are no burners or coals.
- Cover and cook for 15 minutes.
- Turn the chicken skin side down and continue to cook for 20 minutes or longer until juices run clear. Timing will depend on the size of your chicken.
- Let the chicken sit for 10 minutes before carving.
Three Pepper Chicken
The chicken had the most lovely color and flavor from the spices. She would have enjoyed hearing all about it.
Do you say “it cannot be done”? 45 minutes! Really!? I say it can…by using a small trick. I read this tip in the NY Times Wednesday food section. They intended for it to be used to roast a chicken on your grill like an oven and I originally planned making this recipe as written. It was the weekend we were moving back into our vacation cabin and I, frankly, ran out of steam after unpacking all day. But, I had already purchased and seasoned the chicken. We were hungry, but lacked the energy to light the BBQ. Consequently I roasted it in the oven as if it were an oven, which it obviously was.
If you roast chickens frequently you will immediately recognize the problem of roasting one perfectly. If you truss the chicken into a neat little package, the area between the thigh and the breast is often undercooked (and still has red juices) when the breast is ready. Many folks are completely turned off by those pink juices and it often means an undercooked thigh, which is my favorite part.
I don’t know why I didn’t think of this trick before, it seems so obvious in retrospect.
- 2 teaspoons of kosher salt, more as needed
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- 1/4-1/2 teaspoon of chile powder
- Freshly grated rind of 1 lemon
- 1 whole chicken, patted dry
- Extra virgin olive oil as needed
- Heavy duty 12″ heat proof frying pan or skillet, preferably cast iron
- In a small bowl, combine salt, pepper, chile powder, and lemon zest. Rub the chicken inside and out with the mix. Place the chicken on a rack over a baking pan and refrigerate (uncovered) for 4 hours to overnight.
- Preheat your oven to 450 degrees F. Lightly rub the heavy skillet with oil and place it in the oven to heat for 10 minutes.
- Remove the chicken from the refrigerator. Here it is: Use a sharp knife to cut the skin connecting the legs from the rest of the body. Use your hands (you can cover them with paper towels if you are squeamish) to splay the thighs open until you feel the joint pop.
- Rub the chicken with olive oil. Carefully remove the skillet from the oven (it will be very hot), and place the chicken breast side down in the hot skillet. Return it to the oven and cook for about 5-10 minutes until the breast is seared and easily releases from the pan.
- Remove the skillet from the oven and carefully turn the chicken breast side up using tongs and a spatula. I am always reminded of Julia Child at this point. Remember the episode when she drops the chicken on the floor, picks it up and places it back on the plate? So funny!
- Return the skillet to the oven and continue cooking for another 25-35 minutes or until cooked to your liking.
- Transfer the chicken to a cutting board and rest for 10 minutes before serving.
By splaying the legs you will find that the thighs and breast cook at the same rate. The heat has a chance to get into the joint.
Quick Roast Chicken
I am taking this to Fiesta Friday #124, I think the group will appreciate the tip. I have the honor of co-hosting this week with Lindy @ Love in the Kitchen. Click on the Fiesta Friday link to view all the rest of the party food.
Have you ever wondered why, when you cook chicken, you sometimes end up with a lot of watery juice in the pan? It’s because most commercial chickens are dropped into a big vat of chlorinated ice water to quick chill them before packaging. At least that’s what happens in the US. Although there is an advantage to this method (it’s quick), I see some huge disadvantages. As a microbiologist I don’t like the idea of my chicken bobbing around with hundreds of others, it bothers me from a food safety standpoint. What if one of those chickens was infected with Salmonella or another pathogenic bacteria? It also uses a large amount of water which is then considered “contaminated”. And lastly, the chickens invariable absorb some of this chlorinated water, it can add as much as 2 to 12% extra weight. Since chicken is sold by the pound, you pay extra for this water.
Organic and Air Chilled
Air chilling is the preferred method in many other countries. It is slower and less efficient, those chickens will cost more especially if they are organic. However there are many benefits. Once slaughtered, the chickens are cooled with cold air. They are individually hung and pass through a series of refrigerated chambers over a period of several hours. While they are still sprayed with a chlorine mist, they are not submerged in it. The slower chilling process is more effective at tenderizing and it means more natural chicken flavors and juices for you. The method creates far less wasted water and the individual chilling inhibits the spread of bacteria from chicken to chicken.
The information above from website “The Organic Authority”.
I’ve been trying to add more fermented foods to our diet and happened to have a jar of Korean fermented cabbage, called kimchi, in the fridge. This recipe is a lovely combination of flavors, take a look at the gorgeous chicken! It’s also essentially a one pan meal once you’ve prepared the spices and the kimchi butter, only one hour from the time you pop it into the oven to the time you are ready to eat. And, most of that time it is roasting away unattended, giving you time to toss a salad and sip a glass of wine with your family and/or friends.
Oven-Roasted Kimchi Chicken
- 6 tablespoons of unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1/3 cup of kimchi plus 1 tablespoon of juice
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons coriander seeds
- 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 teaspoon of grated lemon zest
- 1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns
- 1/4 teaspoon of cumin seeds
- 4 teaspoons of kosher salt, more if needed
- 1 small chicken – (preferred organic and air chilled) cut down the back and backbone removed. Flatten chicken by removing the breast bone
- 1 pound fingerling potatoes
- Optional – 1/4 pound thick cut bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces (I didn’t use the bacon)
- 3 ears of corn, husked, cut crosswise into pieces
- First make the kimchi butter. Pulse the kimchi in a food processor until finely chopped, add the butter, scraping down the sides as needed until incorporated. Cover and store at room temperature. Chill if made ahead.
- Prepare the spice mixture. Grind the coriander seeds, red pepper flakes, lemon zest, black peppercorns, cumin seeds, and 4 teaspoons of salt in a spice mill or with a mortar and pestle until finely ground.
- Place chicken, skin side up, on a rimmed baking sheet or large plate. Season the chicken on both sides with 1/4 cup of the spice mixture. Chill, uncovered, for 3-8 hours.
- Put the potatoes into well salted cool water and bring to a boil. Cook 15-20 minutes until tender. Drain. You can prepare them as much as 5 hours ahead.
- When you are ready to cook the chicken, preheat your oven to its maximum setting, on mine that is 500 degrees F.
- Wrap a rimmed baking sheet with heavy duty foil.
- Place the chicken, skin side up, on the baking sheet. Place half the kimchi butter in small pieces over the chicken. Roast until browned but not completely cooked, 20-25 minutes.
- Arrange the potatoes, bacon (if using), and corn around the chicken, sprinkle all with the reserved spice blend.
- Roast until an instant read thermometer registers 160 degrees F, and the potatoes and corn are brown in spots. This will take 10-15 minutes.
- Transfer the chicken to a cutting board and let rest for at least 10 minutes.
- Transfer the potatoes and corn to a serving dish and toss with the remaining kimchi butter.
Corn and Potatoes with Kimchi butter
Recipe from Bon Appetit, October 2015.
I am taking this to share on Fiesta Friday #92. Come join the party hosted by Angie of the Novice Gardener. I am very excited that my post of Parmesan Oil was featured this week.