Tender griddled chicken
Italian butchers are brilliant. I love going into these pristine, marble emporiums while on holiday and seeing what delicious morsels they are selling for me to, hopefully, grill to perfection on the barbecue for dinner.
One summer’s holiday in Sicily was no different; a roaring fire with hunks of meat marinated in olive oil, garlic and rosemary scorching on the barbecue. But, this time we tried something completely new to me, the butcher filleted the chicken breasts into paper thin slices. We lightly oiled each piece, flashed them in front of the charcoal heat for a few seconds and then inhaled. The slices were so fine that they just melted with tenderness when you ate them.
I could pretend that I had asked for the chicken to be sliced as frailly as this, but a combination of my rubbish Italian and thinking I understand more than I actually did led to me walking away with the best cut of chicken for a barbecue I’ve ever eaten.
This recipe is barely a recipe, it’ all about how to cut the chicken and then flash grill it. Start off by sharpening your best knife so you can get as thin a slice as possible. The barbecue or grill must be searing hot as it takes only a minute to cook on each side.
Miraculous ingredient: chicken breasts (free range or organic)
Tender griddled chicken
Ingredients 2 x skinned and boned chicken breasts
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Coarse sea salt to season
Slice the chicken breasts as thinly as you can into 8 to 10 horizontal slices; lay the chicken on a board, place your hand on top to keep the chicken from sliding off and use a very slow sawing motion to move the knife backwards and forwards through the chicken in one continuous movement to cut each slice.
Place all the slices in a bowl, add the olive oil and salt. Use your hands to make sure each slice is coated with oil.
Heat a dry cast iron frying pan on a high heat for 5 minutes. When the pan is very hot add ½ tablespoon of oil to the pan and place the chicken slices in one layer (you’ll have to griddle in batches). Grill for 1 minute on each side. Take off and leave to rest for 10 minutes in a warm bowl covered in aluminium foil. Season with coarse sea salt.
If it happens to be lovely sunny day, then barbecuing the chicken slices over hot charcoal will give the very best flavour. When the charcoal or briquettes are covered in a white ash and are seriously hot, oil the wire grill with some kitchen paper and oil. This will stop the ultra thin pieces of chicken sticking to the grill and sear on each side for 1 minute.
Serve up with lots of salad, crusty bread, garlic mayo, chilli, red onion, whatever you fancy.
Preparation time 10 minutes, cooking 5 minutes, serves 4