Indulge with this recipe for the ultimate comfort food

On March 20 UK prime minister Boris Johnson ordered the closure of all pubs, clubs, and restaurants to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Peter Sanchez-Iglesias—the Michelin-starred chef behind Bristol restaurants Paco Tapas and Casamia, and the recently opened Decimo at The Standard, London—suddenly found himself at the whim of the deadly virus.

“Closing my restaurants and not knowing when we will reopen is one of the most challenging situations I have ever dealt with,” said the chef. “Not being able to have full control of the situation has been stressful. At the beginning, I was unwell myself, so isolating away from the restaurant, I found particularly hard dealing with endless calls on what the next move was. For now, I’m taking the business decisions on a day by day basis.”

When we spoke, Sanchez-Iglesias was in his fifth week of isolation. “Ok, so I’m not able to travel the world eating and experiencing different cultures, which is what I definitely would have [been doing] otherwise. Instead, it’s more a feeling of understanding what’s important in life,” he said. “My wife is about one week away from giving birth, and this is time I would never have been able to spend with her. I’m now looking forward to being here for the birth of my baby girl and spending quality time with them both.” Now, Sanchez-Iglesias is at home with his newborn and his wife.

While The Standard, London team was supported by ownership, Crosstree Real Estate Partners, The Standard started a relief fund, Standard Stands Together, for its employees in the United States and the Maldives. “Our employees, like many others in the service industry, tend to live paycheck to paycheck,” said Amar Lalvani, CEO of Standard Hotels in a statement in March. “Most are hourly, often relying on tips. Many are immigrants without family infrastructure here. Few have savings. Most will not be able to pay rent next month. Without relief, many will leave our cities in a few months altogether.”

Although he’s staying at home, Sanchez-Iglesias continues to cook. “I’m staying positive and trying to slowly plan the comeback for the restaurants, he said. “I’m cooking a lot and doing recipes at home that I never had the time to try out. One of them being home-made fried chicken which I absolutely love. Ok, it’s not the healthiest thing to eat, but everyone deserves a treat for dealing so well with these uncertain times.” Here’s the recipe for his home-made fried chicken:

Fried chicken by Peter Sanchez-Iglesias, chef, Decimo at The Standard, London

Serves around 4 to 6 people

8 to 10 Chicken thighs or drumsticks

1/2tsp of Cayenne pepper
1/2tsp of paprika
1/2tsp ground coriander
1/2tsp of freshly ground black pepper
Pinch of ground turmeric
Pinch chili flakes
60g white sugar
60g salt
2 White onion, sliced
4 cloves of garlic, crushed
Sprigg of fresh thyme
10 basil leaves, optional
1 ltr boiling water, use a kettle

Pinch cayenne pepper
4 tsp of freshly ground black pepper
300g strong white flour
8g salt

1-2 ltr veg or sunflower oil for frying

First start with the brine, take a large deep saucepan and add all the ingredients. Bring to the boil and leave to cool. Once cool add the chicken and place in the fridge overnight.

For the breading, in a large bowl add all the ingredients and give them a good mix. Take your chicken from the fridge and drain onto a plate. Add all the chicken to the flour and give it a good mix. Now you should see little knobbly bits forming on the outside. To make even more, flick little bits of the brine into the mix as you keep mixing; it’s messy but well worth it.

Take a large deep stockpot and fill halfway with oil and bring it to 180c. This can be tricky without a probe but you can test with one of the loose knobbly bits to see if it frying enough or too much.

It’s finally time to fry! Fry your chicken in batches of around 3-4 pieces at a time, they should be golden brown and crispy and should take around 12-14 minutes. I always stir them a few times during the cooking as the heat from the bottom can tend to burn them a little, but if you have a fryer you won’t have this problem. Once you remove from the fryer, place on some paper towels to remove extra oil. Leave them to cool slightly and enjoy hot.