March 15, 2015

Roasted Chicken with Mandarins & Ouzo (Plus: International Bento: Jerusalem)

One of our Christmas gifts this year was the gorgeous cookbook Jerusalem by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi. I've been petting the pages for weeks now, but finally got it together to make something from it. This was a wow-factor recipe, turning simple chicken parts into a feast.

As I didn't have a lot of time to source Arak, the ingredient in the original recipe, I went with ouzo (mentioned as an acceptable substitute, and super cheap in these parts) and have zero regrets. I didn't have true clementines, but the Spanish mandarins were a bit tart, and a surprisingly good substitute.

I served this with an easy version of jewelled basmati rice - cooked basmati stirred through with butter, lemon juice, lemon zest, raisins, and a pinch of salt, and it played very nicely with the flavours of the main dish (and, mixed together the next day with some of the leftover fennel and orange slices (chopped up) it made a fantastic salad, too.

The original recipe calls for a whole, disjointed chicken, but I went with three whole chicken legs, and simply divided them into drumstick and thigh pieces.

Wonderfully, this dish can be prepped in advance, so you just need to tumble the marinated chicken into a prepared (ie. lightly oiled) roasting tray (a BIG one), and cram it into the oven.

Roasted Chicken with Clementines & Ouzo

Serves 3-4

100ml ouzo (or arak, per the original)
4 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
3 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons grainy Dijon mustard
3 tablespoons raw sugar
2 fennel bulbs, trimmed (fronds reserved)
3 whole chicken legs, thighs and drumsticks separated
3 mandarin oranges, sliced (unpeeled) into thin rounds
1 tablespoon thyme leaves
2 1/2 teaspoons fennel seeds, half-crushed
salt and pepper
Fennel fronds, to garnish

Combine the ouzo, olive oil, orange juice (I just squeezed some of the extra mandarins), mustard, and sugar in a bowl, and mix well to combine.

Slice the fennel bulbs (each one into 8 wedges) and the mandarins, and place them in a big bowl with the chicken pieces. Pour the marinade over the chicken, fennel, and orange pieces, and then sprinkle with the crushed fennel and fresh thyme. Turn everything about to get it evenly coated, and then cover and let sit for a few hours (or overnight).

Preheat the oven to 400 F. Spread the chicken pieces (skin side up) and the fennel and oranges in a single layer in a large roasting pan. Pour the extra marinade evenly over the pan, then sprinkle the whole dish lightly with coarse sea salt (or kosher salt).

Bake for 45 minutes.

Remove the chicken and other solid items to a platter, and pour the juices from the tray into a saucepan or small skillet. Cook over high heat until the juices are reduced and become a syrupy textured pan sauce. Serve the chicken with the fennel and orange pieces onto individual plates, and drizzle with the pan sauce. Decorate with reserved fennel fronds, and a good grinding of black pepper. I served this with a slightly fancy rice, but a plain one would be beautiful, too. Couscous would probably also work very nicely.

Reheats wonderfully the next day (it's a good idea to remove any meat from the bones before putting leftovers away), as in this international bento below:

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