Garlic Chicken Boulangère
‘Boulangère’ is shorthand for sliced potatoes baked in the oven, usually with a joint of lamb perched on the top. I’ve made it with various-sized lamb joints, with lamb chops, a whole chicken, whole fish and belly-pork joints, but chicken legs are my current favourite. Remember to add boiling, not cold, water to the sliced potatoes when they go into the oven, and ensure that they are tender before the chicken — or whatever — is added to the pan. The garlicky chicken skin ends up thin and crisp, the fat melting into the moist, juicy meat. It is the potatoes, though, that are the star of the dish. There are never enough.
|3||large baking potatoes (900g)|
|3 tbsp||finely chopped thyme, rosemary and bay leaves or 3 tbsp herbes de Provence|
|salt and freshly ground black pepper|
|3||new-season cloves of garlic|
Heat the oven to 220°C/gas mark 7. Boil a full kettle. Peel and halve the potatoes lengthways, then slice thinly as if you were making crisps. Rinse and shake them dry. Peel, halve and finely chop the onions. Choose a pan that can accommodate the thick layer of potatoes with sufficient room to arrange the chicken legs on top. Make layers of potato, onion and herbs, finishing with a flat layer of potato. No need to be too neat about this, but season the potatoes with salt and freshly ground black pepper as you go. Add sufficient boiling water to just cover the potatoes. Cook in the oven for 30 minutes or until some of liquid has been absorbed, the potatoes are tender and the top layer is beginning to crisp and brown.
While that happens, peel and crush the garlic with a pinch of salt to a juicy paste. Work the butter into the garlic. Trim off any excess chicken skin and make several small slashes over each leg. Smear the garlic butter over the skin, working it into the slashes. When the potatoes are ready, snuggle the chicken legs together over the top. Return to the oven for a further 40 minutes until the chicken skin is crisp and golden, and the juices run clear when you pierce the legs with a sharp knife.