Flat-chat chicken recipe: ‘Crispy brown bits in your frying pan? Don’t throw them out!’

Are you a fan of cooking methods that help you save ingredients and time as well as wash up?

Fond, or the fonds of cuisine (loosely described as the base for the cooking), are the delicious, crisp brown bits that are left on the surface of the skillet after cooking. Often, they are tossed into the drain. Don’t toss them out! Make them the part you intend to use in your meals.

By using the simple process of sweating, searing, and deglazing, you could use a basic shopping list and transform it into something amazing.

Flatten your chicken by using the help of a large object like fish weights, or go for a full Backyard Blitz with a clean brick wrapped in foil. Photograph: Rochelle Eagle/The Guardian

Make sure you heat the largest possible area of your ingredients in order to increase the fond flavor and cooking efficacy. A little added pressure from above will maximize the Maillard reaction. In Georgian kitchens, this method of flattening is employed for spatchcocked whole birds, which is a dish referred to as Tabaka chicken. The usual weight is usually a pizza tray with a mortar made of granite, which is wrapped in a plastic bag and tied around the handles to ensure that the mortar and tray will be easy to remove in the event of flipping the chicken. There are other options, such as fish weights or burgers (I love Josh Niland’s), or you could go for a full Backyard Blitz with a clean brick encased in foil (just be sure to lift it using oven gloves).

Flap-chat chicken and feta and silverbeet recipe

For those who want to have a quick Wednesday dinner rather than a complete chicken, I’ve suggested thighs of chicken that are skinless and boneless to save time. If you’re a seeker of shmaltz, you can use skin-on thighs and cook the skin for a longer time to make it crisp and nice.


As always, purchase the highest quality chicken you can pay for. It is best to go for free-range, and organic is a good option if you can. If you buy it from a supermarket chicken, it should be dried as much as possible prior to cooking. Ideally, on a rack with the lid open, in the fridge for several hours, or at a minimum, it should be scrubbed dry with the help of a paper towel prior to cooking.

This recipe makes feta marinated can be used as a multi-tasker in many ways: its funky cheese flavor can be used as a garnish, while the oil that’s been infused serves as the base for marinade. (I prefer the type of feta that is in glass jars because of this reason.)

Treat Silverbeet’s stalks like you would celery. If they are sauteed with the same skillet that was used to cook the chicken, they’ll capture every last drop of flavor. Photograph: Rochelle Eagle/The Guardian

Silverbeet is abundant in gardens and shops during this time of the year. It’s best to treat it in two different ways: utilize the stalks as you would celery and the leaves in the same way as spinach. Chuck into the juice and zest of a lemon and one or two aromatics, and you’ve got yourself the most classic recipe of the Greek horta (with the distinctly tamer Silverbeet as a substitute for the traditional dandelion greens).

In deglazing and sauteeing Silverbeet in the exact pan that is used to fry the chicken, you’ll be able to taste every last drop of flavor and the last remnants of marinade as well. Be wary of Silverbeet’s bulk. Bulk when it is cooked. It does the same trick as spinach and then wilts down into a delicious sweet, savory, and bright accompanying the chicken.

Don’t be put off by the overwhelming amount of Silverbeet. Silverbeet leaves can perform the same magic trick as spinach and then wilt in a hot skillet. Photograph: Rochelle Eagle/The Guardian

If you want to go vegetarian, You could substitute the chicken and feta for Haloumi, a haloumi block. Just dry it, drizzle oil, and flatten it with the pan (as previously described) to cook the meat, then slice it and sprinkle it on top of the Silverbeet and serve.

It can serve two adults and two children.

100g of feta marinated in oil
One lemon Zest and squeezed
500g skinless, boneless chicken thighs
One large silverbeet bunch (approximately 700g) Rinsed well
1-small brown onion peeled and cut into fine slices
Two cloves of garlic peeled and then cut finely
Olive oil lemon wedges and a crusty loaf to serve

To prepare the marinade for the chicken, make sure you pour one-quarter cup of oil left over from the marinated feta into a shallow dish. Add the zest of the lemon and juice, then season using salt and black pepper. Swirl the chicken around in the marinade, cover, and place aside. (The cooked chicken may be cooked a day ahead and chilled. The chicken should be removed from the refrigerator 20 minutes prior to cooking it to get rid of all the chill.)

Remove the leaves from the Silverbeet stems, then cut the leaves into small pieces and place them in a bowl. Cut the stalks into fine slices, put them in a separate bowl of chilled water, then set aside.

Cook a large, heavy-bottomed skillet over medium-high temperature for about two to three minutes or until you can put your hands over it and feel the warmth radiating. Put the thighs of chicken in (reserve your marinade) and then press them down by placing an additional frying pan or pizza tray on top and then weighing it down using a large object like an iceberg or a stone mortar.

Cook the chicken for 4 to 5 minutes per side until it’s crispy golden and the juices flow clear. Transfer to a serving dish and cover with an aluminum foil “hat” (rather than wrapping tightly, place the foil over it) and set aside to sit for at least an hour.

Clean any lemon pips that may be in the marinade, then loosen them with a quarter cup of water. Bring the pan back to medium-high heat, after which you can add the marinade to help deglaze the chicken liquids (AKA fond! ) as you scrape the bottom using a hard spatula. The heat should be raised to high, then add the Silverbeet stems and onions and cook for four minutes in the juices of shmaltzy. Close the lid, reduce the heat to medium, and cook for 5 minutes until the stems and leaves are soft, the onions are transparent, and the liquid is gone.

Incorporate the garlic with one-half cup of water. Then, increase the heat to high, sprinkle silverbeet leaves chopped in the pan, and then add another quarter cup of water. Cover and cook for 5 minutes. With tongs, flip the leaves, and cook covered for an additional five minutes or until you are able to cook the leaves according to taste. (I prefer taking my kale off the grill when the leaves are very bright and green and letting the remaining heat melt them.) Try it, and then season as needed.

Set the meat on a clean board (reserve all the juices) and cut into pieces with the grain. Mix with the rest of the fluids so that the chicken has an attractive, shiny shimmer.

For serving, arrange silverbeet leaves and stalks onto the dish (or small plates, if so inclined) and sprinkle them across the chicken pieces. Serve with a grate of feta, a drizzle of olive oil, and an additional sprinkle of salt flakes and black pepper. Serve with lemon wedges to enjoy squeezes at the table and crusty bread if you’re craving carbs.

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