If you’re currently living in London and you haven’t had the Ottolenghi experience, I highly recommend it. For those not in the know, Ottolenghi is a cross between a modern upmarket restaurant with its sleek white and black settings and a home-style kitchen diner with chefs proudly bringing out platters of food to the display counters. You are surrounded by freshly prepared salads, warm dishes and baked goods and they are all designed for sharing. It is their belief that most dishes are at their tastiest and best at room temperature or just warm – so you will not see refrigerated display shelves for their salads, nor bain-maries for their hot food.
True to their philosophy of using fresh, quality produce and clever combinations of raw, basic ingredients – you’ll be able to taste every ingredient in each dish. Nothing is is disguised or smothered by another. Simple, tasty food.
I’ve tried a couple of salad recipes from the Ottolenghi cookbook and they have both been superb – Roasted aubergine with saffron yogurt (yum!) and Chargrilled courgettes, asparagus and haloumi (yum yum!). So this time, I thought I’d try a meat dish.
The original recipe has hazelnuts instead of almonds. I only had almonds and I thought the flavours worked just as well. I loved the combination of juicy roasted chicken, spicy saffron and the sweetness from the nuts and honey. So simple, so tasty.
I shall endeavour to try out more wonderful recipes from the cookbook and bring Ottolenghi to my very own dining table here in Melbourne.
ROAST CHICKEN WITH SAFFRON, ALMONDS AND HONEY
Original recipe serves 4 (which I halved)
1 large chicken, divided into quarters
2 onions, roughly chopped
4 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
a generous pinch of saffron strands
juice of 1 lemon
4 tbsp cold water
2 tsp course sea salt
1 tsp black pepper
100g unskinned hazelnuts (I used almonds)
2 tbsp rosewater
2 spring onions, roughly chopped (I skipped this, but added a couple of parsnips to bulk up the dish)
1. In a large bowl, mix the chicken pieces with onions, olive oil, ginger, cinnamon, saffron, lemon juice, water, salt and pepper. Leave to marinate for an hour or overnight in the fridge.
2. Preheat oven to 190 deg celcius. Spread the nuts on a an oven tray and roast for 10 minutes, until lightly browned. Chop roughly and set aside.
3. Transfer the chicken and marinade to a large roasting tray. Arrange chicken skin side up and bake for about 35 minutes.
4. While chicken is roasting, mix the honey, rosewater and nuts together to make a rough paste. Remove the chicken from the oven, spoon generous amounts of nut mixture on to each piece and spread it to cover. Return to oven for 5 – 10 minutes until the chicken is cooked through and nuts are golden brown.
5. Transfer to serving dish and garnish with chopped spring onions.
(As I added parsnips to the dish, I mixed them in with the chicken in step 1 and cooked them for as long as the chicken.)