A few years ago I posted recipe for confit chicken served with lemon dressing and pak choi. It was an adaptation of a home classic my mum makes on a regular basis, and the original dish, or a version close to it, is one of my go-to regular meals. This is a quicker and simpler version using coriander - both seeds and leaves - and it’s absolutely tasty.
It’s ready in less than an hour, so is a pretty good option for a quick weeknight dinner. The process is very simple: one chicken leg per person, fried in a pan until golden, then oven-roasted in the same pan (to retain all the flavour) with coriander, lemon, shallots and a little water. 30-40 minutes later and you’ve got chicken with golden crunchy skin, and a light but powerful sauce that’s packed full of flavour. It’s wonderful served with wilted greens and boiled new potatoes.
I have a cast-iron skillet that’s perfect for this. Any oven-safe frying pan will do though, or even a casserole dish. The dish should be big enough to comfortably fit the chicken legs in one layer.
- 2 chicken legs
- 1 small onion, peeled and finely chopped
- 1 bunch coriander
- 1 tsp coriander seeds
- 1 lemon
- sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper
- vegetable oil, for frying
Heat the oven to 190C. Ensure you’ve got a skillet, frying pan or casserole that’ll comfortably fit the chicken legs in one layer. Place the pan over a high heat and add about 2 tablespoons of oil. Season the chicken legs all over with salt, and when the oil is hot, add the chicken legs, skin side down. Don’t overcrowd the pan; do them one at a time if necessary. Fry until light golden all over. They’ll go into the oven later to finish cooking and get really crispy.
There should be quite a lot of fat in the pan; don’t discard it. Cut the lemon in half and fry it, cut side down, until caramelised. Remove from the pan and set aside. Turn the heat to medium. Cut the bottom 3 inches of stalks from the bunch of coriander and roughly chop them (reserve the leaves for later). Add the chopped stalks to the pan along with the chopped shallot, coriander seeds, a generous pinch of salt and a pinch of cracked black pepper. Cook gently for 5 minutes until soft, then add the chicken legs and caramelised lemon. Everything should be sitting quite snugly in the pan. Now add enough water to come halfway up the sides of the chicken. Place in the oven for 35-40 minutes, until the skin is crunchy and golden.
Remove the chicken legs from the pan and set aside. Use the back of a spoon to press the lemon halves and squeeze out all of their juice into the pan. Strain the liquid through a fine sieve into a saucepan. You should have a thin, richly flavoured sauce. Skim any fat that’s resting on the surface, then add the coriander leaves and stir.
If you’re serving this with spinach (which I highly recommend), use the pan you cooked the chicken in to cook the spinach, and you’ll retain any flavour left in the pan. Serve the chicken legs and pour the sauce over.