4 portions. Maximum cost: £8.70, 

Skill level: Medium (assuming that you are de-boning the chicken yourself)

Total cooking time: 30 minutes, 

  • Prep time: 15 minutes (if de-boning the chicken), 
  • Cooking time: 15 minutes, 

Equipment used: A griddle pan,

Original recipe: Nigel Slater’s Grilled chicken with basil butter


Serve with a simple side salad and Nigel’s potato, carrot, feta and dill pancakes (what you and I would call a “potato rosti”)

.Both of these dishes feature in the Observer’s top 10 recipes as chosen by Nigel Slater; both are damn tasty (although to be fair anything cooked with a mound of butter will be), both only use a handful of ingredients but both do require a bit of prep (although this can be done in advance)

Nigel recommends to use chicken legs, but I used thighs here and cooked them the same way / for the same length of time.


To prep:

(Original recipe in bold)

1: Take the butter out of the fridge a few hours in advance to save yourself a world of hassle.

2. Mash the butter in a small bowl, then fold in the torn basil leaves, the juice of the lemon half and a little salt and black pepper. Set aside to chill thoroughly.

3: If you are boning the chicken legs yourself, turn the chicken skin-side down and cut into the flesh following the line of each of the two leg bones. Tease the bone out through the slit in the flesh, cutting round it with the knife to loosen it. Peel and cut the skin away from the bone, to give a flat, squarish piece of meat. Tap the meat out lightly with a heavy object, such as a meat cleaver or rolling pin.

(If you’re unable or unwilling to follow these instructions, I’ve achieved moderate success simply hacking away (as neatly as you can) until you can pull the bone out.


To cook:

Heat up your griddle pan and whilst this is warming up, rub olive oil, salt and pepper into your meat. (In the past, I have also cooked these in the oven and this works nearly as well, you don’t quite get that crispy skin though so if oven cooking, perhaps finish off under the grill to really crisp the chicken.)

(If making the potato rostis, add oil to a frying pan and put on a medium heat at the same time as you griddle).

Cook the chicken over a hot grill, turning it once during cooking. The skin-side will smoke quite heavily, so keep the heat quite low.

Cook for around 5 to 6 minutes but don’t be tempted to move the meat just yet, you want to get the beautiful blackened lines and charred taste. After 6 minutes or so, turn the chicken over for another 3 minutes or so to cook the underside.

Once the meat is cooked right the way through, transfer to a warm plate and add a spoonful of basil butter to each one. Serve with lime or lemon.



All prices from Sainsbury’s, April 2017, unless otherwise stated

  • unsalted butter (£1.30 for a block)
  • basil leaves (70p for a packet, approximately 10 needed here)
  • 1 lemon (30p)
  • 8 skin on chicken pieces (thighs or legs) (£6.40)


View other chicken dishes

View other recipes that use only a handful of ingredients