nigel’s top ten – grilled chicken with basil butter

we ate the roast tomatoes with crumbs and thyme with another of nigel’s top ten – grilled chicken with basil butter.  again it is a very simple recipe but one which is clearly a much-loved favourite – nigel says “sometimes think it's my favourite recipe of all” which obviously sets expectations high!

so, how did i get on?

i used a couple of boned thighs and three boned chicken legs between the two of us (it’s what i had in the freezer, which is why the quantities were a little off!) and followed the rest of the recipe as specified, but cooked the chicken on my griddle pan, turning the heat up high to create a slightly charred and smoky flavour. this worked really well with the richness of both the butter and the roasted tomatoes.

the final verdict:

would i have tried this recipe if it hadn't been part of nigel’s top ten? i doubt it – it’s such a simple recipe i’d probably have skipped past towards something more complex.

would i try this recipe again in the future? yes – the flavours are very simple but really do work well (which is obviously why i usually use herbs, lemon and butter when roasting a whole bird). i’d halve the amount of butter though as there was far too much, even though we had more chicken than the recipe had specified!

grilled chicken with basil butter (august 2005) serves 2

60g unsalted butter

a good handful of torn basil leaves

½ a lemon

2 boned chicken legs (i think you need one leg and one thigh per person)

lemon or lime to serve

mash the butter in a small bowl, then fold in the torn basil leaves, the juice of the lemon half and a little salt and black pepper. set aside to chill thoroughly.

if you are boning the chicken legs yourself, turn the chicken skin-side down and cut into the flesh following the line of each of the two leg bones. tease the bone out through the slit in the flesh, cutting round it with the knife to loosen it. peel and cut the skin away from the bone, to give a flat, squarish piece of meat. tap the meat out lightly with a heavy object, such as a meat cleaver or rolling pin. season with salt and pepper then oil lightly.

cook the chicken over a hot grill, turning it once during cooking. the skin-side will smoke quite heavily, so keep the heat quite low. once the meat is cooked right the way through, transfer to a warm plate and add a spoonful of basil butter to each one. serve with lime or lemon.