Jerusalem Chicken

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This recipe comes from Jerusalem: A Cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi, brought to my attention by the Wine Spectator magazine. I chose it because the seasonings are ones that I don’t often use. In the end the flavors are so deep and complicated I became an instant fan. I believe Wine Spectator suggested a reisling for this dish, but I decided to try another wine. The charbono I chose was beautifully matched, bringing forward the clove and pepper notes. Enjoy!

Serves 4

3 Tbsp. sugar
3 Tbsp. water
2 1/2 Tbsp. barberries (or currants)
4 Tbsp. olive oil
2 medium onions, peeled and thinly sliced (2 cups in total)
2 1/4 pounds skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs, or 1 whole chicken, quartered
Salt and freshly ground pepper
10 cardamom pods
1/4 Tsp. whole cloves
2 long cinnamon sticks, broken in two
1 2/3 cups basmati rice
2 1/4 cups boiling water
1 1/2 Tbsp. parsley leaves, chopped
1/2 cup dill leaves, chopped
1/4 cup cilantro leaves, chopped
1/3 cup Greek yogurt, mixed with 2 Tbsp. olive oil (optional)

1. Put the sugar and water in a small saucepan and heat until the sugar dissolves. Remove from the heat, add the barberries, and set aside to soak. (If using currants, you do not need to soak them in this way.)
2. Meanwhile, heat half the olive oil in a large sauté pan, for which you have a lid, over medium heat. Add the onions and cook for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions have turned a deep golden brown. Transfer the onions to a small bowl and wipe the pan clean.
3. Place the chicken in a large mixing bowl and season with 1 1/2 Tsp. each of salt and pepper. Add the remaining olive oil, cardamom, cloves and cinnamon, and use your hands to mix everything together. Heat the sauté pan again and place the chicken and spices in it. Sear for 5 minutes on each side and remove from the pan. (This is important, as it partially cooks the chicken.) The spices can stay in the pan, but don’t worry if they stick to the chicken. Remove most of the remaining oil as well, leaving just a thin film at the bottom. Add the rice, caramelized onions, 1 Tsp. salt, and plenty of black pepper to the pan. Drain the barberries and add them as well. Stir thoroughly and return the seared chicken to the pan, pushing it into the rice. Pour the boiling water over the rice and chicken, cover the pan, and cook over very low heat for 30 minutes.
4. Take the pan off the heat, remove the lid, quickly place a clean tea towel over the pan, and seal again with the lid. Leave the dish undisturbed for another 10 minutes. Finally, add the herbs and use a fork to stir them in and fluff up the rice. Taste and add more salt and pepper if needed. Serve hot or warm, with the yogurt and oil mixture if desired.

Wine served: 2007, Shypoke, Charbono, Napa Valley

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