Prosciutto-wrapped chicken with lemons, spring onions and potatoes
This rustic dish is dead-easy to make, and looks and tastes far more impressive than the short amount of time it takes to prepare might indicate. For an everyday dinner I serve it as is, however if I have a bit of time up my sleeve, or friends are visiting, I sometimes make a lemony aioli to go with it, although I must admit I have been known to cheat and just mix lots of finely chopped garlic, lemon zest and parsley into good mayonnaise and serve this on the side instead. It’s a small addition, but it makes the dish that much more special. About the only thing you need to accompany this is a bowlful of steamed greens tossed with olive oil, lemon juice and lots of freshly ground black pepper.
150 ml extra virgin olive oil
800g medium-sized potatoes, peeled and cut lengthways into quarters
2 bunches of bulb spring onions (about 12) peeled and tops trimmed
8 chicken thigh fillets
16 slices prosciutto
1 head garlic, broken into cloves
2 1/2 tablespoons finely chopped rosemary
1 packed tablespoon finely chopped thyme
¼ cup finely chopped preserved lemon skin
1 small lemon, scrubbed
Sea salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Preheat your oven to 200C, and line a large, solid roasting tin with baking paper (my tin is 38 cm x 28 cm).
Pour one third of the olive oil into a large bowl. Add the potatoes and spring onions (I rather like the whimsical look of the roots so I leave them on, but by all means chop them off if you’d rather) and roll them about so they’re coated in oil. Spread them evenly in the prepared roasting tin, then pop the tin in the oven and roast the veggies for 30 minutes, turning them halfway through the cooking time. (Hang onto the bowl as you’ll need it for the chicken.)
Meanwhile, roll each thigh fillet into a bundle, and wrap two slices of prosciutto around each one, securing it with kitchen twine. Then pierce the garlic cloves with a fine skewer – this is to stop them from exploding in the oven…true! Put the chicken rolls into the reserved bowl along with the garlic cloves, rosemary, thyme and preserved lemon. Halve the lemon and squeeze the juice into the bowl, then cut the lemon shells into quarters and toss them in too. Pour in the remaining olive oil, then slip on a pair of prep gloves and use your hands to mix everything gently but thoroughly together.
Now tuck these ingredients into the roasting pan with the partly-cooked vegetables (this is a bit awkward but just do the best you can). Scrape any herby juices left in the bowl over the top. Finally, sprinkle everything with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Return the tin to the oven and cook for 45 minutes, turning everything as best you can halfway through the cooking time, until the chicken is tender and the lemons and onions have caramelised a little around the edges.
Remove the pan from the oven and scoop the vegetables and lemon quarters (which taste surprisingly good) into warmed shallow serving bowls. Sit the chicken on the vegetables then drizzle the cooking juices over the top. To eat the chicken squeeze as much (or as little!) garlic as you like out of the cloves and mix it into the juices.