Route 79 : Spicy Oven Chicken Niblets

The effects of feeling hungry on the way home


February 16 2004

Spicy Oven Chicken Niblets

Do you like tandoori chicken? If so - then you will also like what I'm calling Spicy Oven Chicken Niblets. This is something I created myself - but is based on age-old methods of marinating and then cooking/roasting chicken at high temperature in an oven. The thing that defines it is, of course, the marinade.

But first you must select the chicken. We always get our chicken at one of the Asian butchers on our local High Street. Far cheaper than Safeway or Asda - and probably fresher - as they take deliveries every morning. The meat might not *look* as clean and tidy as in Safeway - but you're gonna have to wash it all anyway - so why not pay a sensible price rather than a grotesque amount!

We like a cut of chicken called "chicken niblets" - these look effectively like smaller drumsticks - but they are in actual fact the wings with the wing-tip removed - so I guess you could call it the "arm" of the chicken. (Make sure the butcher removes the skin if there is any - all chicken cooked Indian style is with skin-removed.) Anyway - at £2.99 a kilo - the niblets are more expensive than legs or thighs - but this is the price you pay for the taste - and the fact that they are trendy at the moment. For four people - you will need around 20 pieces - that's about 1.5 kilo - which should cost no more than £3.50.

Wash the chicken thoroughly when you get home. Leave to drain in a colander in the sink whilst you prepare the marinade.

Prepare the marinade. You will need:

1 large-ish lump of fresh ginger root - length of your thumb - thickness of two thumbs
4 cloves of garlic
2 tablespoons of natural plain yoghurt
1 teaspoons of jeera (cumin seed)
3 heaped teaspoons of ground coriander
3 heaped teaspoons of ground jeera (cumin)
2 heaped teaspoons of tandoori mix powder
2 tablespoons of vegetable oil
Some dashes of vinegar
Some dashes of lemon juice

This is really easy: (Make sure you peel and shred/grate the garlic and ginger - the ginger when grated will look like lots of small "hairy" pieces - this is perfect)

Get a large bowl. Put all the above ingredients into the bowl and mix around thoroughly with a spoon. It will become a pinkish paste - which will look like it won't be enough to marinate all the chicken - but trust me: you don't want too much - as the process of roasting in oven will generate too much "water" extract and it will become too difficult to cook perfectly.

Then - get a flat plate and organise your worktop in the following fashion:

Colander of draining chicken on the left. Flat plate in the middle. Big bowl of marinade on the right.

Put an absorbent kitchen towel/tissue on the flat plate in the middle - and then, using your hands get a single pice of chicken from the colander - roll it onto the flat plate tissue (to pat it dry) - and then throw into the marinade bowl. Do this individually for every piece of chicken. Then put the colander and flat plate into the sink for washing and throw the tissue away. Wash your hands after every time you've handled chicken - and make sure you wipe down surfaces with anti-bacterial cleaning agent afterwards too.

Now stir the bowl of chicken niblets/marinade until all pieces are fully covered - and then transfer the coated niblets and any surplus marinade to a smaller bowl that the you can fit in your fridge. Cover with clingfim and put away at bottom of fridge for as long as you like - even 24 hours if you like.

When you are ready to cook - take the marinating chicken out of fridge and put the oven on very moderately-high heat (180-200 celcius) and pre-heat for 15 mins. Place the chicken pieces on the hot roasting tray (we line ours with a non-stick teflon sheet - even though the tray itself is supposed to be non-stick - as it makes for much easier cleaning) and place the tray anywhere in the fan-assist oven.

Although I don't have a picture - the chicken and the marinade probably look awful and unappealing when you're preparing it - but it will look fabulous when it's cooked. Here is a picture of mine a third-way through cooking:

Basically - you let it roast for 20 mins - turning the roasting tray 180 degrees after 10 mins. Then you turn over all the pieces using two forks and put it back in for another 20 mins (doing the 180 degree tray-turn after 10 mins) - and then turn the pieces back around again and put back in oven for another 20 mins - but this time with the heat turneed up a little higher to "brown the edges" at the end. The hairy bits of ginger coating the chicken will blacken slightly - and the ginger and garlic and spices all add to a great taste and aroma.

When it's done - take pieces off the tray and arrange temptingly on a foil-lined serving dish and garnish with random sprinkling of freshly chopped coriander. Sit for 5 mins on side before serving at table with vegetable rice and fresh chunky salad of cucmber, tomato and carrot.

Oven spicy chicken niblets!

Have you tried this? Even if you haven't - let me know what you think!
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