Moroccan honey chicken

January 18, 2010

Do you know what, this book is brilliant. The tone takes a bit of getting used to – all breathless chit-chat and boys and late nights – but once I started thinking of her as a bit like Nigella’s debonair younger sister I settled into it. And I’m glad I did, because she knows her stuff, this Rosie Lovell. From the book this week we made: banana and buckwheat pancakes, muesli, rice cubes with dipping sauce, tofu with soy beans and mushrooms, carrot and sweetcorn fritters, onion and butterbean soup, tuscan bean stew with orzo pasta, smoked mackerel and broccoli bake, smoked mackerel pate, ebi chilli men, babaghanoush, chicken and mushroom korma, plus the moroccan chicken and two other tasty things I’m going to tell you about shortly. The only thing I didn’t like was the soup, which I thought combined sweetness and fishiness in a way that was not pleasant, but Tom liked it. I’m sad to move on, because this is a weighty book and when I was jotting down things I’d like to make from it, before I do my weekly meal plan (you should see it, it’s insanely detailed), I basically just copied out the contents list.

Back to – or rather onto – the chicken. I had to immerse myself in a lengthy and consoling food preparation session on Saturday to take my mind off the horrible hangover resulting from a cocktail party the night before. Of course, we decided to bring the ingredients for White Russians. If you ever see me with a White Russian in my hand feel free to stage an intervention – it’s for my own good.

This is perfect for such a scenario (I didn’t know I needed a recipe specific to a White Russian hangover, but now I have one). You basically poach a whole chicken with some aromatics, which takes a good hour and a half, so you can maybe have a little lie down while the smell of chicken and cloves wafts medicinally in the air about you. Then you have to leave the chicken to cool before you can strip it, which takes another hour or so. You need to make a tomato sauce, too, but that’s mainly simmering for an hour. See? You can take it at your own pace. The chicken stripping is oddly calming and, bonus, you get a whole pan of chicken stock for absolutely no effort whatsoever.

I served it with the afore-listed babaghanoush as a sort of smokey relish, along with his n’hers starch accompaniments of cranberry and toasted almond-scattered couscous and lemon and thyme roasted potatoes:

Moroccan honey chicken  Serves 3-4

Note: I roughly halved the original recipe, which serves 10. I cooked only one chicken instead of two, using half of the meat and saving the other half for salads and the next day’s chicken curry, and I just halved the sauce quantities. The ratio seemed about right.

For the chicken:
1 chicken, around 1.5 – 1.8 kg
2 bay leaves
2 tsp whole cloves
1 tsp peppercorns

For the sauce:
1 tbsp olive oil
2 onions, finely chopped
1 tsp ground cloves
1 cinnamon stick
1 red chilli
3 garlic cloves
2 cans chopped tomatoes
2-3 tbsp honey
black pepper

Fill your biggest pan with water and immerse the chicken, along with the bay leaves, cloves and peppercorns. Simmer for around an hour and a half, until the chicken is fully cooked and the flesh is starting to come easily away from the bones. Remove the chicken, keeping the stock, and leave to cool.

Meanwhile, start the sauce: heat the olive oil and fry the onions gently with the cloves, cinnamon and chilli. After a few minutes, peel, crush and add the garlic. Leave for a couple of minutes before adding the tomatoes. Cook, covered, over a low heat for around an hour. You can use a little of the chicken stock to loosen it to the required texture should it dry out. (The chicken stock also comes in handy for cooking the couscous, if that’s what you’re having on the side.)

When the chicken is cool enough to handle, strip all of the meat from the bones. Set aside half for other uses and tip half into the tomato sauce. Stir in the honey and season.

Adapted from Rosie Lovell’s ‘Spooning With Rosie’.


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