Saturday, June 05, 2010

Enough with the liver, try this chicken recipe instead.

Sarah's sister here - I just made a delightful meal and would like to share the main recipe. It started with some harissa, which was purchased by my mother as a curiosity without really knowing what should be done with it (it's more of a condiment really). There was also some chicken thighs about, so the plan was to make them edible if not tasty and utilize the harissa. The harissa is very hot: chilies, oil, garlic, salt, rose petals (in this particular brand) and 'spices'. I initially thought I might just rub it on the chicken and grill it, but it really would have been too hot with not much flavour. Enter the sour cream. I would have used yogurt but there wasn't any and the sour cream worked out nicely. Add ground cumin, quite a hefty dose because my bottle of pre-ground cumin has been in the cupboard for a long time so the flavour is a bit weak and I didn't feel like grinding my own today as my mortar is currently housing some chunky salt that requires grinding up a bit before I sprinkle it on things. Back to the marinade - I found some medjool dates in the cupboard that I probably bought in January and are turning quite dry and sugary, so I put three of those in a blender with a small amount of hot water, whizzed it a bit, added the sour cream mixture and a clove of crushed garlic and then a big pinch of salt, and then another pinch of salt - always good to have a slightly salty marinade (slightly!). The resulting blended sauce was pretty tasty, but missing something which turned out to be orange, best sourced from orange juice concentrate, which I am a big fan of for use in sauces, dressings and marinades as it has a lot of flavour with reduced liquid (add a bit to a basic Dijon vinaigrette and use over spinach salad - yum). The marinade was then slathered on to the chicken thighs, left to sit for an hour, then baked in the oven for about 35 minutes ~375F. Served with a low-parsley tabbouleh (add a blend of other herbs - mint, oregano, basil, dill and a bit of parsley, and a lot of diced vegetables - this also helped me prune the herb garden a bit to encourage some branching) and sliced orange with yogurt (purchased after the marinade was made) and mint. Tasty, tasty, tasty. I happily have one chicken thigh left for tomorrow, and in future I would be inclined to make rice to go with this so the baking marinade could be ladled over it. It might even be worth putting some orange juice in to thin out the marinade and increase the volume for ladling over rice. I did originally plan to grill the chicken on the barbeque, but the marinade was so tasty I wanted to conserve it with the cooking.

Recipe as best as I can recall:

-4 chicken thighs, skin removed and fried up for dog treats (okay - and Rachel treats too)
-1 - 1 1/2cup of sour cream (or I would use plain, Balkan style yogurt with a fairly high MF%). I'm not sure about that quantity, it was enough to slather liberally over four chicken thighs.
-1 tsp harissa paste or some other hot chili paste or fresh chili, make it as hot as you want or leave it out if you are not into chilies.
-1/2-1 tsp ground cumin depending on how fresh your cumin is and how cuminy you like your food
-1 large clove of garlic, crushed
-3 large dates, chopped then whirred in a blender with 2 tbsp of hot water.
-1-2 tbsp of orange juice concentrate, or juice and zest of a medium navel orange for a runnier marinade
-salt to taste (to be a shade on the salty side, but not too much as the marinade is baked with the chicken)

Blend all the marinade ingredients together. Slather over chicken thighs (or equivalent amount of other cuts) in a baking dish. Let sit for as long as you want in the fridge - you could do this in the morning or the day before or immediately before cooking. Heat oven to 375F, put in the dish of chicken, uncovered. Check after about 25 minutes and see if it needs more time which it probably does (unless you are using boneless chicken breasts - they don't need as much time as bone-in cuts usually). At this time you can flip the chicken over and spoon the marinade over it again. Put back in the oven for 10 more minutes (or use your judgment about doneness). Serve with marinade sauce over top. Scale up/down the recipe to provide 1 or 2 pieces of chicken for each person.