Big garlic, big chillies, big bay leaves… it’s all or nothing.

It’s in the name; Chicken bastardo: I dear you.

PREP TIME: 10 mins
45 mins
not too tricky
midweek meal, crowd-please, family

Chicken bastardo – go big or go home

I recently came across this recipe in Jamie Oliver’s Italy cookbook.

And it sounded right up my alley with a bit of casual Italian swearing in the name of the dish.

Who doesn’t enjoy shouting at your family that their ‘chicken bastardo is ready!’

But I’m not so shallow I’d cook something for a cheap gag.

Ok, I am but the simplicity of ingredients was a big hook to.

Check it out:

  • 1 x 2kg whole chicken
  • 20 x garlic cloves
  • Olive oil
  • 20 x bay leaves]
  • 20 x mixed coloured chillies
  • 100 ml red wine vinegar
  • (honey which is optional).

This was definitely the perfect dish for me to fire up the wood oven and have some fun in the sun.

How many?!?…twenty?!

Yeah, ok, it does sound a little scary to add in so many garlic cloves.

Especially if you have to spend the rest of the evening with the people you’re cooking for.

And the chillies, that could go very wrong for some people.

But, Jamie Oliver puts your mind add ease with this conundrum.

The garlic cloves, as we know, cooked whole just go mushy and sweet.

So, no real panic there.

The chillies

Well, he says they don’t kick out a lot of fire but give ‘a nice warmth’to the dish.

But here’s a little warning…

Be careful the chillies

So, I got my wood oven up to temperature.

Browned off my chicken pieces.

(Btw, check out how to joint a chicken, here (or get your butcher to do it)).

And threw in all the garlic, bay leaves and chillies (prick the chillies before your put them in).

Then I just popped it all into the wood oven (*you can do this in a normal oven).

And let the dish work its magic.

Once it was done (approx. 45mins), I served up the chicken pieces first.

And this is where a little bit of Jamie-Oliver-pukka-faffing comes in…

You’re meant to squeeze the soft garlic out of their skins into the dish.

And then, you can either serve the chillies whole (and let everyone decide whether they want more heat by eating them).

Or, he tells you to cut them in half, deseed, chop up the chillies flesh and pop back into the dish.

Having just burnt my fingers squeezing out garlic.

I picked up the first chilli and attempted this procedure.

Nah, this isn’t going to happen.

The chilli flesh was lovely and soft (and hot!).

But there was no way I could separate the skin from the seeds.

So, I boldly just took off the stalks and chopped the chillies up, whole.

And popped them back into the dish.

Chicken bastardo – cooked in the fire oven

In the meantime

A quick aside while I’m burning fingers and unable to follow the correct instructions.

I put on the boil some lovely pasta to serve with the chicken.

To be honest this is a new thing for me, serving pasta with chicken.

But I like it!

I get sick of potatoes.

And making polenta almost broke me a few weeks ago.

So, this I like especially as it takes on the juices and sauces.

Ok, back to chicken bastardo (now the name is making more sense to me…).

So, the ‘pasta plan’ was to mix it in with the cooking juices and the garlic and chillies.

And serve under/next to the chicken pieces.


Chicken bastardo

So, having squeezed the soft, sweet garlic back into the dish.

And ‘successfully’ chopped up the chillies, returning them to the dish.

I put the pasta in (with a little pasta water) and mixed it altogether.

And served it.


I mean, I like chilies.

And I can handle heat.


That was intense.

Chicken bastardo!!

Lessons learned

Ok, so it was a bit of a *&^-up on the heat front from my side.

But, I can see it’s a lovely dish.

And now I know what I’ll do next time to manage the chillies.

First of all, I personally don’t know how Jamie manages to cut cooked soft chillies in half and deseed them.

Perhaps I left them in too long??

Some ideas I have to improve my method of madness.

  1. Just serve whole and let the guest decide their fate.
  2. Cut in half and deseed. Maybe around 10 chillies before cooking.
  3. Try only cooking with 10 chillies of you want to cut them up like I did at the end.
  4. Look for less hot chillies to cook with.

So, that’s my mission next time.

It was a good cooking learning curve.

And thank goodness it was trialled on my husband and 17yr old instead of friends.

(**we had to drink a lot of milk with it).

Chicken-bastardo, chicken-delicious

Don’t be put off.

It’s a fab dish.

The chicken wasn’t spicy hot, just my mad sauce that I covered the pasta with.

And with a few of the tweaks above, I think I will nail it.

Hopefully my family will trust me the next time I serve it.

But to be fair to me, they still managed to leave their plates clean of chicken bastardo.

So, its ‘onwards and upwards‘, as my father would say.

Until next time, try chicken bastardo: I dare you…

Jamie Oliver’s Chicken Bastardo

Course Main Course
Keyword chicken, roast chicken
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Servings 6 people
Cost £


  • 2 kg chicken, jointed (see below for link or ask your butcher to do it) Try to buy free range
  • olive oil
  • 20 whole garlic cloves (unpeeled)
  • 10 fresh bay leaves
  • 20 fresh mixed colour long chillies – prick them
  • 100 ml red wine vinegar
  • splash of water


  • Preheat the oven to 180C/160C fan.
    In a large (ovenproof) pan, over high heat add the olive oil and place the chicken pieces in, skin side down at first, to brown.
    Keep turning them until golden all over (approx 15 mins).
  • Next, add the whole unpeeled garlic cloves and bay leaves and try and slot in any gaps. Add the pricked whole chillies and fry for approx 2 mins, mixing everything together.
  • Now, add the vinegar and a splash of water and season.
    Cover with a scrunched up sheet of wet baking paper and place in the oven for 45-50 minutes, or until golden and cooked through.
  • You have two options to serve:
    1.Divide up the chicken between your plates and let everyone take chillies and garlic to their liking. Spoon over the sauce.
    2. Divide up the chicken between your plates. Peel the chillies, scrape out the seeds, then chop up the flesh and, to taste, stir it back through the pan juices. Squeeze out the sweet garlic out of its skins into the pan, stir together, then spoon as much as you like over the chicken.
    ** Version 2. takes a bit longer and I have included some tips in my blog on my experience with this version which I think could make it a little easier and avoid too much heat.
  • Serve with some crusty bread.