Sunday, June 22, 2014

Harissa spiced chicken braise with olives and chickpeas

I had every intention of making a coq au vin and ended up with something entirely different but that is the joy of cooking isn’t it? Adding what you have on hand to make something superbly tasty.

This dish still lies in coq au vin territory – it is essentially the kind of cunningly rustic French cooking designed to pull on every last bit of flavour from some very standard cupboard staples with a few extras. I also made a nutty side of burghul, cashews, pine nuts and fresh green herbs – a great carrier for the sauce, which is the sort of sauce you want to drink straight from the bottom of the plate. This is not coq au complex, it is very much based on the idea that it is pretty much impossible to cock up a coq au vin, and we all need a few of those dishes in our repertoire.

Serves 4-6 (with sauce for 8)
50g butter
1 tbsp grapeseed oil
2 brown onions, peeled, chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled, chopped
500g chicken thigh fillets, bone removed
1 cup Sicilian olives
1 x 450g chickpeas, rinsed and drained thoroughly
3 tablespoons of harissa paste (or to taste depending on strength of the paste)
1 tablespoon fennel seeds
1 tsp ground coriander
500ml white wine (I used a dry chardonnay)
200ml thin cream

Nut grains
1 cup Burghul
Chicken stock to cover
1/2 preserved lemon, very finely chopped
1.2 cup parsley, finely chopped
½ cup dill, finely chopped
½ cup salted cashews
¼ cup pine nuts, toasted
½ cup raisins
Melt the butter in a heavy based, deep pan and pour in the oil. Add the onions and garlic leaving to cook over a moderate heat until the onions have softened. Add the chicken pieces and brown them on all sides until the skin is just golden. Add the harissa paste and spices until fragrant then pour over the wine. Leave to boil for a minute or two, then turn down to a simmer. Cook for twenty minutes, turning the chicken now and again. Add the chickpeas and olives and stir to warm through. Pour in the cream and stir to combine. Season to taste and continue to cook until the cream starts to thicken.

While it is cooking, add the burgul to a saucepan and add enough chicken stock to cover at least 2cm above the burgul. Place over medium heat, and cook for five minutes, stirring continuously or until just cooked and the stock has been absorbed. Remove from the heat and stir through the remaining ingredients.

Serve the burghul topped with the chicken and extra spoonfuls of sauce. Top with extra chopped parsley if desired.

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