Chicky Chicky Bread Bread

SERVES: 4

(aka Crispy Chili-Yogurt Chicken Legs over Schmaltzy Bread)

This chile-flecked yogurt marinade gets stained bright orange when blended with mild chile flakes such as Aleppo pepper or Gochugaru. You’ll notice that I’ve given a much smaller quantity of Italian red pepper flakes (also known as pepperoncini) as a substitute. These are much spicier, so you won’t need as much, and therefore they won’t stain the yogurt a rich hue. But they’ll work great nonetheless. Use whatever you’ve got! If you’ve ever made Samin Nosrat’s Buttermilk Marinated Roast Chicken, you may be familiar with the tenderizing effect that sour dairy has on meat--the enzymes in dairy products like buttermilk or yogurt help to break down the proteins in the chicken, resulting in supremely tender meat with an undeniable tang. As for the slices of bread that sit beneath the chicken, stale bread, which has dried out, will resist sogging out underneath the chicken and lead to crispier fried edges. If you only have fresh bread, slice it up and leave it out at room temperature to dry out for a few hours if possible. If you don’t have time for that, you’ll just need to embrace the crispy gone soggy factor (which I happen to think is pretty special in its own right).

Active Time: 35 Mins

Total Time: 1 hr 20 Mins

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Produce

  • 2 whole heads garlic
  • 4 large shallots
  • 2 large bunches kale, collard greens, Swiss chard or spinach
  • 1 lemon

Pantry

  • 2 tablespoons mild chili flakes (Aleppo, or Gochugaru) OR 2 tsp hot red pepper flakes (Italian)
  • 2 tablespoons fennel seed
  • ¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 5 tablespoons olive oil
  • Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
  • ½ loaf crusty, stale sturdy sourdough bread (the staler the better, really)

Dairy

  • 1 cup whole milk yogurt

Meat

  • 4 bone-in, skin on chicken legs (about 2½ pounds)

1. Marinate the chicken:

  • In a blender combine 2 tablespoons fennel seed, 2 tablespoons mild red chili flakes (or 2 teaspoons Italian red pepper flakes), and ¾ teaspoon cinnamon. Blend on high until the spices are finely ground. Add 1 cup yogurt, 2 tablespoons olive oil, 8 garlic cloves, ½ teaspoon salt, and blend again until smooth.
  • Pat 4 chicken legs dry, and season all over with salt. Place the chicken in a baking dishor large resealable plastic bag. Pour the chili yogurt all over the chicken and let sit, turning occasionally, at least 1 hour and up to overnight.
  • Arrange a rack in the center of the oven, and preheat the oven to 450 when you’re ready to cook.

2. Meanwhile, prep your veg and bread:

  • Slice the stale bread into three or four 1” thick slices. (They ultimately need to fit in a 9 x 13 baking dish in a single layer so think about that as you decide how many you’ll need)
  • Peel 8 small shallots, cut them in half through the root end. If your shallots are large, cut them in quarters.
  • Cut the remaining head of garlic in half crosswise.
  • Cut or tear 2 bunches of greens into 3 inch pieces (if you’re using kale or collards, you’ll want to remove the tough center stem).

3. Roast the chicken:

  • Place the shallots, halved garlic and bread in a clean 9 x 13 baking dish.
  • Drizzle all over with 3 tablespoons olive oil and season with salt and pepper, turning to coat everything.
  • Arrange the chicken legs on top of the bread and vegetables. Roast, until the bread is golden brown and very crisp underneath, 25-30 minutes. The chicken will not yet be browned and crisp. Using tongs, move the chicken legs to a plate momentarily, while you flip the bread slices over, and stir the shallots and garlic. Return the chicken legs to the bread, and continue to roast until the chicken skin is crisp and deeply burnished, 12-16 minutes longer. Transfer the chicken and bread to a plate or cutting board to rest.

4. Add the greens and finish:

  • Stir the greens into the baking dish along with the shallots and garlic, drizzle with some more olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and return to the oven to cook, stirring once halfway through until wilted and tender, 5-10 minutes longer depending on what greens you’re using. If it looks like the drippings at the bottom of the pan are burning you can add a couple of tablespoons of water to loosen them up.
  • Squeeze the juice of 1 lemon all over the greens, chicken and bread. Divide the bread, shallots, and greens among serving bowls. Top each one with a chicken leg. Serve the roasted garlic alongside for schmearing on the schmaltzy bread.

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