This week’s book is Ottolenghi, amazing book of the amazing deli. The prospect of cooking from the Ottolenghi book all week is an exciting one, or it would be, if I didn’t have something even more exciting on the horizon: on Saturday I set sail on the ferry from Fishguard to the shores of Ireland to take up my place on the Ballymaloe Cookery School’s next 12 week course. Yes, this does mean The Great Cookbook Project is faltering to a halt, or at least a postponement. I may have to change my tagline to ‘the G-O of a cookbook addict’, which sounds a bit pathetic. Anyway, I’m sure the number of people waiting with bated breath for me to reach my Nigel Slater collection is approximately zero, and if all goes well I might actually learn to cook without a recipe.
On Sunday we threw an afternoon tea party as a send-off and I made the Ottolenghi chocolate macaroons. I’m too ashamed to post a picture because they went all bumpy and not nice and smooth like the pictures, even though they were all eaten and some people tried to claim they didn’t even know they weren’t meant to look like that (possibly under the influence of one too many Earl Grey martinis). So, no macaroon recipe, but I do have a very good roast chicken recipe instead. This is so good I’ve made it twice, which is pretty rare for me. The chicken is marinated in ginger, saffron and cinnamon and then part-way through cooking you cover it with a mixture of roasted hazelnuts, honey and rosewater – it sounds as if it might be too sweet, but it’s not: the roasting juices from the chicken mix with the melting honey paste to give it savoury depth. Your kitchen will be filled with the most bewitching smell of chicken and toasting nuts and the delicate scent of roses that you’ll find yourself hovering by the oven until it’s done. It’s that good. There’s a recipe on the opposite page for roast chicken with sumac, za’atar and lemon, which also sounds moan-inducingly good, but I couldn’t bring myself to not eat this delicious honey-nut chicken for a second time.
Roast chicken with saffron, hazelnuts and honey Serves 4-6
We ate this with a rice pilaf, khobez bread and chargrilled broccoli with chilli and garlic (also from the book, a recipe to convert any broccoli hater). You can ask your butcher to joint the chicken for you, or just hack it ineptly into bits if you’re me. Or you could try making it with bone-in chicken pieces.
1 large organic or free-range chicken (mine was about 2kg), divided into quarters: breast/wing and leg/thigh
2 onions, roughly chopped
4 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
a big pinch of saffron
juice of 1 lemon
4 tbsp cold water
2 tsp coarse sea salt
1 tsp black pepper
100g unskinned hazelnuts (mine were skinned – I could have blanched them, but the skins didn’t bother me)
2 tbsp rosewater
2 spring onions, sliced (for garnish)
Find a bowl large enough to fit all the chicken. Mix in the onions, olive oil, ginger, cinnamon, saffron, lemon juice, water, salt and pepper, rubbing it evenly into the chicken with your hands. Leave it to marinate for at least an hour (or overnight in the fridge).
Heat the oven to 190c. Put the hazelnuts in a baking tray and roast them until browned and fragrant (this took about 5 minutes in my oven). Remove and chop roughly.
Tip the chicken and marinade into a large roasting tray, with the chicken skin-side up. Put in the oven for 35 minutes. Meanwhile, mix the chopped hazelnuts with the honey and rosewater until it comes together into a rough paste. Remove the chicken from the oven and spoon over the nut paste, pressing it on to the top of each piece. Return to the oven for 5-10 minutes, making sure that the chicken is thoroughly cooked.
Garnish the chicken with the chopped spring onions and serve.
From Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi’s ‘Ottolenghi’.