Marrakshi chicken with preserved lemon

Sam is getting more adventurous with his cooking, and wanted to try a Moroccan-inspired dish. This is what he made – heavily influenced by the chicken tagine served at Leon.

Serves 4

  • 1 large onion
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon garlic puree (or smoked garlic puree if you can find it)
  • 1 tablespoon ras-el-hanout spice mix
  • 8 small chicken joints, on the bone for preference (thighs are perfect for this, or you can buy a whole chicken and joint it yourself – there’ll be plenty of meat left over on the carcass to make  stew or soup)
  • a few strands of saffron (optional)
  • half a litre of chicken stock
  • 1 tin of chickpeas, drained
  • 4 large preserved lemons or 8 really small ones, enough for about 60g of rinds
  • 50g green olives, stoned and chopped
  • 2 tablespoons creme fraiche
  • salt and black pepper

Peel and chop the onion into thin half-moon slices.  Heat the oil in a large saute pan or casserole dish, and saute the onion in the oil over a medium heat until it is soft but not coloured. Add the garlic puree and the ras-el-hanout, stir it about and enjoy the lovely aromas of the spices as they heat up.  Put in the chicken pieces – you should really take the skin off .  Then add the chickpeas, the saffron and the stock and let it come to a simmer. Leave it simmering for about ten minutes.

Take the preserved lemons and cut them in half. Scoop out the flesh and pips and discard them, then slice up the rinds and add them to the pan along with the chopped olives.  Keep the pan simmering for another ten minutes.

Finish off the dish by adding the creme fraiche. Stir it in and then turn up the heat a bit to reduce the liquid a little – this should take another ten to fifteen minutes.

Incidentally if you use big chicken breast fillets or larger joints, you will need to increase the cooking time to ensure the chicken is cooked through.  Chicken should never be pink!

When you are ready to serve, season it with salt and pepper (it may not need salt because of the stock and the olives) and garnish with some chopped coriander leaves (cilantro to our friends across the Atlantic).  This dish can be served with couscous or rice, and it goes well with dark green vegetables such as broccoli or wilted spinach.  You could also try a mixture of traditional Moroccan braised vegetables such as carrots, courgettes, squash, aubergine and green cabbage.


chicken & sweetcorn chowder

Following the triumph of the remote control roast chicken on Wednesday, there was enough meat left over to make another meal for 4.  Since we also had some rather old sweetcorn cobs (bought in anticipation of a barbecue that never happened) and some leftover new potatoes, chicken and sweetcorn chowder it was.

  • 4 fresh corn-on-the-cob 
  • 1 tbsp light olive oil
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 300 g cooked new potatoes, skin on, diced small
  • 500 ml chicken stock
  • 500 ml skimmed milk
  • 250 g cooked chicken meat, without skin, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp dried tarragon 
  • pepper and salt
  • To garnish: 2 rashers smoked back bacon

Take all the corn off the cobs (hold each one upright, then use a knife to cut down the cob to take off the corn).  Heat the oil in a large saucepan and add the chopped onion.  Cook the onion until it is translucent and soft, but not browned.  Add the corn and the diced potatoes and then the stock and the milk, and the dried herb (if you don’t have tarragon, mixed herbs or thyme might do). Bring to the boil and simmer gently for about 5 minutes, then add about half the chicken meat and heat that through.  Use a stick blender to blend the chowder so that it is coarse textured rather than smooth.  Then add the rest of the cooked chicken meat and heat through for another 5 minutes. Taste and add a sprinkling of  salt and lots of black pepper.  Meanwhile, fry the rashers of bacon until they are crispy, take out and drain on kitchen paper then chop into little bits.

Serve the chowder with a sprinkling of crispy bacon bits, and some nice crusty bread.

NOTE: You could use frozen sweetcorn for this, and it would also work if you use uncooked old floury potatoes in place of cooked new potatoes – it would make it more authentic at any rate!  In which case, peel and dice the potatoes and add them raw to the pan and cook them for 15 minutes until they are soft before blitzing with the blender.

Chicken liver paté

Another treat for the party season.

  • 6oz (180g – ish) chicken livers
  • 2 rashers fat bacon, preferably smoked
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 2oz butter (possibly more)
  • A clove of crushed garlic (optional)
  • Brandy
  • Black pepper
  • bayleaf

Fry onions, crushed garlic, and bacon gently in the butter until the onions are translucent.  Add the livers and fry them gently.  Don’t have the heat too high.  Season with pepper (there’s enough salt in the bacon so don’t add any extra).   When the livers are just cooked all the way through but still a tiny bit pink, pour a slug of brandy into the pan and let it heat through for a minute or two. Feed the mixture into a liquidiser or food processor and blitz until smooth.  Put into a ceramic pot and cover with some melted or clarified butter.  Put a whole bayleaf in the butter topping for decoration.