Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Chicken sofrito

This dish comes from Jerusalem by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi, who suggest that you might use a butterflied chicken “if you have a wide enough pan”. That pan would be pretty wide – a 1.5kg butterflied chicken would not fit in my 28cm, shallow, cast iron dish. It might, if I removed the backbone and cooked the bird in two pieces; but the problem, as I have written here before, is that the breast is likely to become tough before the legs are tender. I used instead 6 chicken thighs, which are what my pan will accommodate. Otherwise, I stuck to Ottolenghi and Tamimi’s quantities. The amount of paprika and turmeric may seem modest, but is enough to give the dish a subtle flavour, as well as an appealing, golden red colour.

1tbsp sunflower oil
6 chicken thighs
1stp sweet paprika
1/4tsp turmeric
1/4tsp sugar
2 1/2tsp lemon juice
1 large onion, peeled and quartered (I used 3 shallots, each cut in half)
Sunflower oil, for frying
750g Charlotte potatoes, peeled and cut into 2cm dice (I used Jerseys, scraped)
25 garlic cloves, unpeeled
Salt and black pepper

Put the oil into your dish over a medium heat, and fry the chicken, skin side down, until golden brown. Sprinkle over the paprika, turmeric, sugar, 1/3tsp of salt, and 1 1/2tbsp of lemon juice.

Turn the chicken pieces over, set the heat to low, cover, and cook for 1 hour. Check that there is just enough liquid in the pan to steam the chicken and prevent it from catching. (I find that the chicken thighs give off a generous quantity of their own liquid.)

Pour enough sunflower oil into a saucepan to come 3cm up the sides. Set the heat to medium high, and when the oil causes a small piece of bread to sizzle, add as many potatoes and garlic cloves as the oil will cover. Cook until the potatoes start to brown – the book says that this takes about 6 minutes, but in my experience it may be some time longer. Lift the potatoes and garlic from the oil with a slotted spoon, put them on paper towels, and sprinkle with salt. Then fry another batch.

After the hour is up, transfer the chicken pieces to a plate. Stir the fried potatoes into the pan, and put back the chicken on top. Cover again, and cook for 30 minutes.

Drizzle with the remaining lemon juice before serving.

The potatoes, with flavours both from the frying and from the spiced chicken juices, are gorgeous.

Spatchcocked chicken

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