Is there a recipe in your life that you know so well, inside and out, backwards and forward, that you find yourself making it on repeat? It’s both a reliable dinner party staple, and a comforting date night in when you crave the familiar. That’s what Melissa Clark’s anchovy chicken has become for my family. And before you go running for the hills, let me assure you that if you think you don’t like anchovies, you’re wrong. This recipe will prove it to you.
I often comment to those closest to me how we’ve won the lottery — we have a number of family friends where both my husband and I adore not just one spouse, but both partners, as well as their children. We jokingly refer to this trifecta as unicorn status because it is so rare to find people that your entire family can connect with.
After my first son was born, I joined a group for new moms and immediately bonded with a woman whose daughter was a mere 11 days younger than Ethan. What brought us together? Our love of food, of course. (Because remember, the people who love food are the best people!) We quickly discovered that, as couples, we shared a bond and deep appreciation for a select few restaurants in NYC. This lead to us getting to know each other over family brunch dates, which then lead to co-hosting potlucks, traveling into the city, and cross-country flights to visit each other after my dearest mom friend moved away.
It’s been 4.5 years since she left Connecticut. While distance can sometimes be the final straw that pulls people apart, it warms my heart knowing that our bond has only grown stronger. Our daily texts and phone calls have offered a form of support as a mom, wife, and person that uplift me and give me a sense of strength even when I’m at my lowest.
Over the years, her husband, also a dear friend of mine, has become a kitchen confidante. We trade recipes like they’re secrets waiting to be unearthed by the masses. I let him know when I’ve struck gold, and he does the same for me. We talk about dreams of one day opening restaurants or wine bars, and how we can retire on the same olive oil farm, both families being well fed by us for the rest of their days. Everyone needs a friend like this in their life, and I’m lucky he happens to be my best friend’s husband.
So why the love letter to my friends across the country? Because without them, I would have never crossed paths with this recipe.
This recipe has resulted in a bit of a chain reaction. It was passed along to me as something I would fall deeply in love with (I did), and I have since shared it with countless friends, urging them to look past the list of pungent ingredients (anchovies, capers, a lot of garlic) and trust me.
Don’t underestimate the power of strong friendships or the resulting ways they can influence your happiness. And this anchovy chicken? It’s going to make you very, very happy.
- 1 ¼ lbs boneless skinless chicken thighs ((about 5 thighs))
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- 6 garlic cloves (smashed and peeled)
- ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 5 anchovy filets
- 2 Tbsp drained capers (patted dry)
- 1 large pinch chile flakes
- 1 lemon (halved)
- parsley (for serving)
- Heat oven to 350 degrees. Season the chicken thighs with salt and pepper and let rest while you prepare the anchovy-garlic oil. Mince one of the garlic cloves and set it aside for later. In a large, ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat, add the oil. When the oil is hot, add the 5 smashed whole garlic cloves, the anchovies, capers and chile. Let cook, stirring with a wooden spoon to break up the anchovies, until the garlic browns around the edges and the anchovies dissolve, 3 to 5 minutes.
- Add the chicken thighs and cook until nicely browned on one side, 5 to 7 minutes. Flip the thighs, place the pan in the oven and cook another 5 to 10 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through.
- When chicken is done, transfer thighs to a plate (be careful, as the pan handle will be hot). Place skillet back on the heat and add minced garlic and the juice of one lemon half. Cook for about 30 seconds, scraping up the browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Return chicken to the pan and cook it in the sauce for another 15 to 30 seconds.
- Transfer everything to a serving platter. Squeeze the remaining lemon half over the chicken and garnish with chopped parsley. Serve.