SPICED BALINESE ROAST CHICKEN
For this dish, traditionally a whole bird is rubbed with a Balinese spice paste, then wrapped in leaves before being buried in the earth or a claypot and covered with hot charcoals and burning coconut husks. When ready, the charred green parcel is opened to reveal steaming, tender chicken that is succulent and smoky with Balinese spices.
My version uses these traditional flavours but an easier technique, just like my grandmother Popo used to do. The rendered chicken fat with the kale and the spiced crispy skin makes it one of my favourite dishes. Serve with Red rice
and sambal matah
Chilli heat Moderate
Sambal suggestion Fresh Balinese sambal matah
4 skin-on, bone-in chicken legs
400g kale, woody stems removed and leaves sliced
Sea salt and black pepper, to taste
Coconut oil or sunflower oil
For the spice paste
8cm piece of ginger (about 40g), peeled and sliced
6 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
2 small banana shallots or 4 Thai shallots, peeled and sliced
3 long red chillies, sliced
¼ tsp ground turmeric
¼ tsp ground black pepper
¼ tsp ground white pepper
¼ tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp ground coriander
¼ tsp sea salt
½ tbsp coconut oil or sunflower oil
Preheat the oven to 220°C/200°C fan/gas 7. Rub oil, salt and pepper onto the chicken legs. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat and lay the chicken legs skin-side down in the pan (you may need to do this in batches, depending on the size of your pan). When the skin is crispy and golden, which will take about 12-15 minutes, turn the chicken over and cook it for a further 4 minutes on the other side. Reserve any of the rendered chicken fat for the kale.
Meanwhile, place the spice paste ingredients in a small food processor and blend to a semi-coarse paste. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a frying pan over a medium heat and fry the paste until fragrant, about 10-15 minutes. Set aside and allow to cool.
Blanch the kale in a pan of boiling salted water for 3 minutes, then run it under cold water to cool. Squeeze out any excess water and press it between paper towels. Mix a quarter of the spice paste with the kale, along with the chicken fat and a sprinkling of salt, then spread onto a baking tray.
Brush the remaining spice paste on the chicken; it should spread nicely over the skin. Place the chicken legs on a wire rack above the kale (if you don't have a wire rack the chicken can sit directly on the kale).
Bake on the top shelf for 30-35 minutes. If the spice paste starts to burn on the chicken skin, cover any blackened bits with foil and continue cooking. To check if the chicken is cooked, the legs should reach 82°C. (If you do not have a probe thermometer you can also check by making a small slice into the thickest part of the chicken. The chicken is cooked when the juices run clear and the meat is fibrous inside, with no opaque pink flesh.)
Once cooked, arrange the chicken legs and kale on individual plates and serve immediately.