Pressed caesar chicken thighs with charred baby gem and pickled shallots

Pressed caesar chicken thighs with charred baby gem and pickled shallots


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Our re-invented version of the caesar salad takes it to moreish new heights and has fast become a favourite here at the kitchen with Great British Chefs.

It was inspired by a famous barbecue recipe from the Deep South; Alabama white sauce chicken. The chicken is submerged in a vinegar and mayonnaise based white sauce before being barbecued, but we decided to switch it up and use a caesar dressing for the marinade. The salty ingredients in the dressing such as the anchovies and Parmesan act as a brine, helping you achieve incredibly juicy thighs. Meanwhile the Parmesan melts during the grilling, giving it a cheesy golden crust to die for.

Samin Noserat's 'conveyor belt chicken' recipe from her book Salt, fat, acid, heat inspires the method of cooking. Boned out thighs are cooked skin down with a weight on top, ensuring you get a spectacular evenly golden and crispy skin in only 8 minutes. Using the cast iron plancha on the barbecue is a great way of achieving this, plus you get that extra smokey flavour from the coals.

The chicken is the star here, so the rest of the salad is kept simple; punchy pickled shallots, gem leaves lightly wilted on the grill for a slightly nutty flavour and a smattering of finely chopped herbs. All ready to eat within 60 minutes. Go!

Begin by making the pickled shallots. This can be done a few days in advance if easier, but isn't necessary. Heat the red wine vinegar, water and sugar in a pan and stir to dissolve the sugar. Add a pinch of salt and take off the heat
Once cooled, add the shallot rings and leave to pickle for at least 30 minutes
Next make the caesar dressing. This is a quite a loose dressing as it acts as a marinade for the chicken as well as a dressing for the leaves. Using a pestle and mortar, grind the garlic and anchovies to a paste
Transfer to a larger bowl then whisk in the vinegar, lemon juice, egg and parmesan. Slowly drizzle in the oil while constantly whisking to emulsify. Taste and season with salt and pepper
Transfer about one third of the dressing into a separate bowl to dress the leaves at the end
Dip the chicken pieces into the larger bowl of dressing then place onto a tray. Leave to marinate whilst you light the ceramic barbecue
Set up the barbecue so you have the cast iron reversible griddle with the plancha side up on the lower level, and bring up the temperature to 200°C
Once the barbecue is hot enough, place the chicken pieces skin down on the plancha, lay a sheet of greaseproof paper over them and weigh down with something heavy (we used a cast iron pan). The heavy weight speeds up the process of cooking the chicken meaning there’s no time for it to dry out, as well as ensuring a lovely crisp skin
Cook for 8 minutes then remove the weight and flip the chicken over for another minute or so (thicker pieces might need a few minutes)
While the chicken is resting, place the little gem leaves onto the plancha and char for around 30 seconds on each side
Slice the chicken pieces then plate on top of the charred gem with the pickled shallots, chopped chives and leftover caesar dressing
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