A favourite kitchen staple of mine is Sichuan peppercorns. Here, they work beautifully with chicken, squash, chilli and honey. Don’t overdo the peppercorns – they’re mouth-numbing in large quantities – but if you’re a fan of chilli, by all means increase the amount. Sichuan chicken is traditionally very spicy.
PREP 10 MINUTES
COOK 45 MINUTES
3 tsp Sichuan peppercorns
1½ tsp chilli flakes (less or more as needed)
600g butternut squash, cut into thin 1cm wedges
600g free-range, skinless, boneless chicken thighs
3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
2 tbsp sesame oil
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp honey
2 big pinches of sea salt flakes
200g pak choi, quartered
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp rice vinegar
½ tbsp sesame oil
1. Preheat your oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6.
2. Tip the Sichuan peppercorns and chilli flakes into a pestle and mortar, then coarsely pound together for 30 seconds or so to break up the larger peppercorns.
3. Pop the squash, chicken, garlic, sesame oil, soy sauce and honey, along with the ground spices, into a roasting tin large enough to hold it all in one layer then mix well so that everything is evenly coated. Scatter over the sea salt flakes then transfer to the oven and roast for 30 minutes.
4. Remove the tin from the oven, scatter over the pak choi then return to the oven and cook for a further 15 minutes.
5. Meanwhile, whisk the soy sauce, rice vinegar and sesame oil together. Spoon the dressing over the cooked chicken, pak choi and squash as soon as they come out of the oven, and serve hot.
NOTE If you are a fan of chicken wings this Sichuan chicken dish can easily be adapted to use them instead of thighs.
Recipe taken from The Roasting Tin Around the World (to be published by Square Peg on 30 April, price £16.99)