Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Chicken thighs with clementines and arak

The dish before and after being basted with sauce!

Arak was a big (alcoholic) discovery of my trip to Israel last summer. I'm not a fan of aniseed in general and the few times I had tried arak before in Lebanese restaurants I had disliked it. But yet somehow (after many shots?) it has grown on me, so I decided to buy a bottle at the duty-free in Ben Gurion airport before leaving (interestingly enough, it's Jordan-produced). So I was quite intrigued by Jerusalem's chicken with clementines and arak recipe. I'm very happy with the results, it might have been the one, so far in the experiment, that turned out the best. You can do it with an entire chicken that's been cut out or with chicken thighs, I did latter because I'm not going to cut a whole chicken apart and I'm not feeding a huge Jewish or Arab family. The recipe is right out of the book, minus fennel seeds that I couldn't get hold of, and  with quantities for two people:
2 chicken thighs
50 mil arak (apparently you can use ouzo or pernod instead)
3 tbsp of orange juice
3 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp sugar
2 tbsb grain mustard
2 medium fennel bulbs
4 clementines  sliced horizontally (supposed to be unpeeled, I peeled them)
1 tbsp thyme leaves
oil and black pepper
chopped flat leaf parsley, to garnish

Put the arak, oil, lemon and orange juice, mustard, sugar a in a mixing bowl. Add salt and pepper. Trim the fennel and cut each bulp in half lengthways. Cut each half in 4 wedges. Add the fennel to the liquids, along with the chicken pieces (it works better if you cut the thighs in two), clementine slices and thyme. Stir well and leave to marinate in the fridge for a few hours or overnight.
Preheat the oven to 220 degrees. Put the chicken and marinade in a dish big enough to accommodate everything in a single layer. The chicken skin should face up. Once the oven is hot enough, place to roast for 35-40 mins, until the chicken is cooked through.
Put the chicken and other ingredients in a serving plate, cover and keep warm. Pour the cooking liquids into a small saucepan, place on medium-high heat, bring to boil and simmer until the sauce is reduced to a third. Put the hot sauce over the chicken, garnish with chopped parsley and serve.

What was nice about this dish was the smell and taste of arak, fennel and other nice things throughout the preparation. The sauce (that can be soaked up with pitta pieces) was particularly yummy. If anything, next time I might try adding some more arak.

In other news, stay tuned because I bought some fenugreek! I'm still not sure what it is but I can use it now!

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