Saturday, January 14, 2012

Spiced chicken with rice and lentils

This is a Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall recipe from the Guardian, with a few adaptations. I used dried apricots rather than dates (not because I prefer them, but because I had some in the cupboard), and scaled down the quantities slightly. But I deviated most in my timings and quantities.

First, I made my dish with chicken drumsticks, which I allowed to cook in the spiced stock for 30 minutes before adding the lentils and rice. I like the meat to be very tender. I don't think I used as much as 4tbsp of oil, because the chicken exudes its own fat when frying.

The dish shown in the Guardian appears to be dry, but the quantity of stock specified, 700ml, is a lot more than 150g of rice and 80g of lentils will absorb. I decided to use just enough stock to cover the ingredients. I had to be sure that they would soften under these conditions, so I pre-soaked them (separately) for a couple of hours.

I used green lentils, which - pace Fearnley-Whittingstall - take longer to cook than does rice. I cooked them for 30 minutes, just covered with stock, and checking the liquid level regularly. Then I added the rice, pouring over just enough extra liquid to submerge it. Fearing that the ingredients would stick to the bottom of the casserole if left on the hob, I put the dish in the oven at this point, for a further 20 minutes at gas mark 4/180C.

The rice and lentils absorb all the fat, so be prepared to taste it as you eat them. It's not unpleasant. I'd have liked a little heat in the dish, perhaps from some cayenne pepper.

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