I can’t believe that I am reaching the stage where I have all the ingredients to cook Ottolenghi dishes – my cupboards are bursting since I started buying tons of tahini paste, pomegranate molasses, date syrup, kecap manis, sumac, pink peppercorns, barberries…
I have a complete mental block when it comes to following recipes – or following instructions of any kind. My mind wanders and inevitably I miss out a vital step sometimes I find it easier to read a recipe and then close the book and just do my own thing. I need to really focus my mind and concentrate to follow a recipe fully, but even then it rarely works, my big head gets in the way and I decide to do my own thing anyway.
With Ottolenghi cookbooks, I think that the recipes are written unnecessarily complicated-ly. For me, this makes cooking from them an exciting challenge and a bit of an experiment. They are always really delicious though.
I have adjusted the quantities in this recipe a bit, based on trial and error during the cooking process. Some of this is just because the specified volume was just plain ridiculous, and another was to calm down some of the very strong, and slightly conflicting flavours.
Do the prep before you start cooking – so so much prep for this recipe. I know it does seem like a lot of work, but essentially once everything is chopped you just bung it in the oven, making it a surprisingly simple Ottolenghi recipe. The finished dish does taste like something that someone spent a lot of time on, so I think its worth it.
Whoever thought that raw chicken could look that pretty?
8 chicken thighs or mixed pieces, on the bone with skin
Roughly 450g Jerusalem artichokes – AKA fartichokes, AKA duvet-lifters. If you buy these from a grocers or good supermarket, the slightly pink skin may be really clean and they won’t need peeling. When I buy them from the Farmers’ Market no amount of scrubbing with a nailbrush removes all the dirt, and they need to be peeled. To prepare them for this recipe, peel or not, and cut in half lengthways – or more wedges depending on how big they are – you want the wedges to be a similar size to the shallot halves
10 banana or echalion shallots, peeled and cut in half lengthways
8 cloves of garlic – this seriously is less than the recipe – peeled and sliced
1 lemon, cut in half lengthways and sliced thinly
1 tsp saffron – if you have it
50ml olive oil
1tbsp pink peppercorns, bashed a bit (in a mortar and pestle if you have one). This is less than the original recipe
10g fresh thyme
10g fresh tarragon, plus a few more leaves for garnish (this is also less than the original recipe)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Put the Jerusalem artichokes in a saucepan, cover with plenty of water (add a squirt of lemon juice to the water) and simmer them until tender but not completely soft –roughly 10-15 minutes. Drain and leave to cool.
Mix the cooled Jerusalem artichokes with all of the remaining ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Cover and leave to marinate for at least two hours – overnight is better.
When ready to cook, pre-heat the oven to 220 degrees, or 200 with fan. Arrange the chicken pieces (skin-side up) in a large roasting tin, and tip the veggies and saucy marinade liquid around the edges and gaps. Season with salt and pepper, and roast for 40 minutes. Cover with foil and cook for a further 15 or so minutes, until the chicken and the veggies are cooked through. Serve garnished with a few flourishes of reserved tarragon leaves.