Sometimes I feel like I’ve been playing catch up. When your life stops it takes awhile to catch up and that is what I’m doing. My life had been on hold for various reasons, some of which had to do with Manservant’s travels and lack of work or too much work. Last year began my time of catch up, which I was more than ready to do. I could wax poetic on this, but my mantra to all girls just starting out is to always keep your foot in the door. Trust me, I learned the hard way. But rather than dwelling on the past, let’s move into the present and let me tell you about why we are even talking about “catch up”.
And what, by God, does this have to do with chicken? Trust me, I always seem to know where I’m going; I just don’t know how I’m getting there! My recent foray at Costco found me deciding which Yotam Ottolenghi cookbook to buy. I already have Jerusalem and I’ve shared many of those recipes with you. I was all set to buy his new one, but it was the old one, the very first one, that caught my eye; so that is what I bought.
Trust me, I have bought very few cookbooks in the last 10 years. Luckily, I have a lot of cookbooks and the library has been a great resource, too. In the last ten years those two have kept me fed, so to speak! The truth is I love cookbooks. I devour them like novels.I sleep with them by my bed. In my opinion, one can never have too many cookbooks. If you are ever wondering what to buy me, well, flowers and cookbooks will suffice!
And so it is I found myself facing “Ottolenghi” at dinnertime. On a cold winter night. In a cold house. It was snowing outside. I was hungry for more than a PB and J! Have I set the scene properly? So I opened the book to the middle. Truly, the page I opened to is page 123 and there are only like 283 pages in the book, so that is about the middle, isn’t it? This recipe was on that page. And on the opposing page is another chicken recipe with za’atar that I am dying to make, too!
Now if you are smart, you will deduce from my photo that I had not planned to make this for a blog post. I planned to make this and eat it. I did not count on this being so good. I did not count on the aroma of chicken with ginger and cinnamon and saffron with plenty of black pepper and rosewater to bring Manservant up from his office and say, “That smells really good. When are we eating?” I did not have a plan on plating this and making it beautiful. I just planned on serving it with a salad and rice. But my last minute inner voice told me to take a picture, even though it was totally dark outside. My inner voice told me that something that smells so good has got to taste great. Trust me. I have developed a very good inner voice. My intuition is quite good.
Well, this chicken rocks! It will knock your socks off. It will send people running from all avenues of your home to see what you are making. It is special. It is simple. It is worth waiting 10 years for, when I could have made it way back in 2008, when this cookbook was published! My intuition tells me you will love it. But my intuition also tells me that you may wonder about this odd sort of ingredients that aren’t very American, so to speak. To this I say, “It is the new year. Time to try new things. Escape your box. Live a little. Catch up. And trust me!” I have great intuition!
Roast Chicken with Saffron, Hazelnuts and Honey
From: Yotam Ottolenghi – “Ottolenghi, The Cookbook”
Time to Make: About 20 minutes
1 chicken, divided into pieces or quarters
2 onions, coarsely chopped
4 T olive oil
1 t ground ginger or a few gratings of fresh
1 t ground cinnamon
a generous pinch of saffron threads
Juice of 1 lemon
4 T cold water
2 t coarse salt
1 t fresh ground black pepper
3/4 c unskinned hazelnuts
3 1/2 T honey
2 T rose water
2 chopped green onions
In a large bowl, mix the chicken pieces with the onions, olive oil, ginger, cinnamon, saffron, lemon juice, water, salt and pepper. Leave to marinate up to overnight, but at least for a few hours. (I think I marinated this about 3 hours.)
Preheat the oven to 375. Spread the hazelnuts on a baking sheet and toast for about 10 minutes, until lightly browned. Chop coarsely and set side.
Transfer the chicken and marinade to a parchment line baking sheet, large enough to not crowd everything. Place chicken skin side up and place the pan in the oven for about 35 minutes.
While the chicken is roasting, mix the honey, rose water and nuts together to make a rough paste. Remove the chicken from the oven and spoon a generous amount onto each piece. Return to oven for about 10 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through and the nuts are golden. You can place this under the broiler if you want it more golden, but watch that the nuts do not burn.
Serve the chicken sprinkled with green onion.
Other great chicken dishes: