Some say a roasted chicken, done plainly and simply, is hard to improve upon. I say there’s nothing that chilies can’t make better.
If you’re a chile freak, make this chicken now. Once dubbed “Scary Chicken” by a customer with a more timid palate, it requires cold beer and a love of the lip tingle. Is it for serving guests? No. Is it the equivalent of wearing a hair shirt? Maybe. Salvation through pain. More specifically, capsaicin, which I contend is addictive. The more you eat chilies, the more you want them.
I know I’m not alone in this chile fetish of mine; I sold a lot of this chicken over the years and plenty of other spicy food. There are people who never ordered from me again, but there were others, like Daphne, who literally did a dance in front of her coworkers when I delivered her Shrimp Sauce Piquant and told her I had made it extra spicy. That’s what a cook lives for. I will never forget it.
This is a stupidly easy recipe. It’s hard to even call it a recipe. You mince ginger, rub the chicken, and bake it. If you can barely nuke your Easy Mac you can still handle this.
With a mini food processor for mincing the ginger, this chicken takes about 10 minutes to get into the oven. Put on a pot of jasmine rice while it cooks and stir-fry some greens (bok choy, mustard greens, etc.) in sesame oil at the last minute. If you like mushrooms, toss some shiitakes into your greens.
And make sure you’ve got your beer chilled!
A rub of chile-garlic paste caramelizes in the oven for deeply golden and crispy skin while fresh ginger adds its aromatic heat to the chicken. Not for the timid, this is seriously spicy.
2 chicken leg quarters
2 thumb-sized pieces of ginger, peeled and minced
Huy Fong chile-garlic paste, see Note
disposable latex gloves (optional, but recommended)
Peel ginger by scraping with the side of a spoon. (See picture.) Mince in a food processor until pulverized.
Line a baking sheet with heavy duty foil. Place chicken on foil and pat dry with a paper towel.
Run a finger under the skin to loosen the skin from the meat. Do not detach the skin.
Wearing gloves to protect your hands from the chile paste, rub the meat (under the skin) with salt, ginger, and a generous amount of chile paste. Be sure to stuff some seasoning down the length of the drumstick.
Replace the skin and rub the exterior of the meat with more chile paste. Your chicken should be entirely coated with the paste, top and bottom.
Roast at 425F for 25-30 minutes or until done. If you have any doubts, an instant-read thermometer should read 165F when inserted into the thickest part of the thigh.
Note about chile paste:
Don’t confuse chili garlic paste with sriracha, the smoother “rooster sauce” that comes in a squeeze bottle. You want the chunkier version. You can also use sambal oelek, but add a couple cloves of fresh garlic to the ginger when you process it.