My husband makes sandwiches like I make tarts; with precision, generosity and scant regard to calories. This means he makes fabulous sandwiches, full of flavour. They are proper meals, not something to chow down quickly before going back to your desk. This spicy chicken and tarragon ciabatta is the sort of sandwich that he would make. You’ll need two hands to eat it and a napkin close by for dribbles of warm juices. The ciabatta is warm, the leeks are silky, the tomatoes are fresh and then we come to the chicken.
The chicken is marinated in garlic, ginger, chilli flakes, salt and tarragon. You can marinade it for just thirty minutes or, if you have the time, overnight to give a more intense flavour. The chicken is then threaded onto skewers and BBQed or fried in a griddle pan. I use meat from thighs rather than breast because the bones and fat give the thighs so much more flavour. The tarragon is the key ingredient to this dish – it brings warmth and an almost spicy taste of sweet aniseed. The chilli adds a nice kick and, together with the garlic and ginger, you have a perfect marinade.
This is an impressive lunch, but it’s a lovely supper too, a great change from potatoes, pasta and rice. If you are having guests, just make sure they are close friends, this isn’t a meal to eat when you need to concentrate on the conversation.
Spicy chicken and tarragon ciabatta
50 g / 2oz garlic cloves
50 g / 2 oz ginger
1 tsp chilli flakes
20 g / 1 oz tarragon
2 tbsp oil
¼ tsp salt
4 chicken thighs, skin and bones removed
50 g / 2oz butter
½ tbsp oil
2 large ripe tomatoes or 10 cherry tomatoes
2 large ciabatta
1 tbsp mayonnaise
Skewers – wooden or metal
Total carbohydrate per portion – 50 g
1. Peel the garlic and ginger and roughly chop them. Then chop the tarragon and put all the marinade ingredients in the small bowl of a food processor and process until you have a rough paste. If you don’t have a food processor, just chop everything finely and mix well.
2. Chop the chicken into 1” x 2” / 2 cm strips.
3. Mix the tarragon paste and the chicken in a small container or plastic bag and leave for thirty minutes or as long as you have.
4. Preheat the oven to 200°C / 180°C fan/ 395°F / Gas mark 6.
5. Top and tail the leeks and slice into thin coins.
6. Heat the butter and oil in a small pan with a lid and when hot add the leeks. With the lid on and over a low heat, cook the leeks, stirring to ensure they don’t stick, until they are translucent and soft.
7. While the leeks cook, put the ciabatta in the preheated oven for 8 minutes.
8. Thread the chicken strips onto skewers.
9. Place on the BBQ or on a hot griddle pan and cook until the chicken is cooked through.
10. Slice or halve the tomatoes.
11. Halve the ciabatta. Divide the mayo between the ciabatta and spread, add half of the leeks to each ciabatta and then add the chicken and finally the tomatoes and serve.
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