A week ago, the Mister and I celebrated ten years together.
In many ways it feels like we’ve been together forever, and in other ways, it feels like it was just last week that we were a pair of fresh-faced twenty-somethings all googly-eyed in love, but the calendar doesn’t lie… ten whole years.
We’re a little (okay, a LOT) greyer, a little bit fluffier around the middle, and we creak and pop when we stretch in the morning. And we’re still just as googly-eyed for each other.
I know we’re technically not supposed to celebrate our dating anniversaries now that we’re married (two whole years, as of today…. yay!), but this was such a big milestone that we couldn’t possibly let it go by uncelebrated.
We marked the occasion the same way we’ve always celebrated our biggest milestones – by preparing a beautiful homecooked dinner and then sitting down to eat it together. Great food, not too fancy, eaten in great company. In many ways, that kind of sums up our relationship in general.
This year’s menu involved a spatchocked chicken, cooked on the grill until crisp-skinned and subtly smoky. I know the traditional gift for a ten-year anniversary is tin, but I think this recipe makes the case for going with chicken instead.
It’s a sentimental favourite for us, since he proposed to me over a grilled chicken. (Yes, he obviously knows the way to this girl’s heart.) The original chicken was seasoned with garlic and thyme and sumac, but this time around, we chose saffron and preserved lemon, a subtle nod of the head to the paella we made to celebrate our fifth anniversary.
We served our chicken with a fluffy basmati rice cooked in the Persian style with brilliant yellow saffron, layered with fresh herbs, chopped pistachios and pomegranate arils. And for dessert, a wobbly panna cotta scented with dill pollen and topped with crunchy salty-sweet toasted almonds.
All very lovely dishes, to be sure, but it was still the chicken that was the star of the show. You could even say this is a particularly spectacular specimen of roast chickendom – brilliantly golden, with a crackling salted skin and tender juicy meat that practically falls off the bone. It might not be the most elaborate of dishes, but there’s something to be said for simplicity.
I’m still trying to figure out if there’s a suitable tin-based gift out there that I can use as a belated anniversary gift, but for now, I think this chicken will do just fine.
- 1 whole chicken, spatchcocked (~3 lbs)
- 2 tsp kosher salt
- 1 tsp ground turmeric (or 1 tbsp grated fresh turmeric)
- ½ tsp pepper
- ½ preserved lemon, finely chopped
- ½ tsp saffron, crumbled
- 3 tbsp butter, softened
- The night before, pat the chicken dry with paper towels, then season all over with salt, turmeric and pepper. Transfer to a large zip-top plastic bag, and place in the refrigerator to chill for at least 6 hours (but preferably overnight).
- The next day, heat a lightly oiled gas or charcoal grill using medium-high heat.
- Using one or two fingers, gently separate the chicken skin from the breast and thighs, creating a small pocket and doing your best to keep the skin whole. Slide the preserved lemon butter into the pocket and gently spread to fill the space over the breast and onto the thighs.
- Place the chicken, breast side up, onto the preheated grill over indirect heat. Grill with the lid down for 40-50 minutes, or until juices run clear and a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh registers a temperature of 160F.
- Move the chicken to direct heat and flip over skin side down. Grill with the lid closed for another 5 minutes to crisp the skin. Remove from heat and let rest, uncovered, for 5 minutes before serving.