My friend Annie was telling me when we met on Thursday night about this great recipe she’d done from Ottolenghi’s new book, Jerusalem. Then, coincidentally, I picked up an email the next day from my friend Linda in Spain telling me she was cooking the same recipe: Roasted Chicken with Clementines & Arak. I decided The Single Gourmet Traveller really ought to take a look!
It’s been a strange grey day with snowing falling continually, though not settling, and very icy out.
It was agreed to postpone a family dinner till next Sunday, when hopefully the weather will be more clement. However, I decided to go ahead with the chicken as I was keen to try out the recipe. I could soon see it was going to be an adaptation, not the 100% true thing. But hey! Recipes are often for inspiration and not necessarily for following to the nearest milligram.
I had a nice chicken leg – part of a jointed chicken from the local farmers’ market. Early in the day, I got it marinading.
When you divide a recipe for 4 into a dish for 1, then you have to adapt. It’s not simply a question of easy arithmetic. Also, I not only didn’t have Arak, I didn’t have any Pernod either – Ottolenghi’s suggested alternative – so I settled for dry vermouth. And I didn’t have orange juice so it was going to have to be clementine juice as well as sliced clementines; and I didn’t fancy putting in quite so much mustard as suggested. But the essence of what I prepared was Ottolenghi.
First of all: mix together 50ml dry vermouth (or white wine) with one and a half tablespoons clementine juice and the same amount of lemon juice. Add 1 teaspoon French mustard (or grain, as in recipe). Add 1 tablespoon soft brown sugar and some salt and freshly ground black pepper. Whisk together. Slice half a large fennel bulb into 4 wedges. Slice 2 clementines (4 slices from each clementine.) Put the fennel and clementine slices in a dish with the chicken. Pour over the marinade, add a few sprigs of fresh thyme and 1 teaspoon fennel seeds, slightly crushed. Mix and leave to marinate for a few hours, if possible. Certainly at least 1 hour. Then roast in the oven at 200C/180Fan for about 45 minutes or until the chicken is nicely browned and the edges of the clementines and fennel are caramelising.
Transfer the chicken, fennel and clementine slices to a serving plate. Pour the remaining juices into a small saucepan and boil rapidly for a few minutes until the sauce reduces quite a bit. If there’s too much fat or oil, skim off.
Once the sauce is nicely thickened, check seasoning (mine didn’t need any extra seasoning), and spoon over the chicken. Ottolenghi suggests serving this with plain rice or bulgur but I had a longing for roast potatoes, so that’s what I had, and a nice crisp green salad at the side.
Wow! It was SO good. Such an intense and gorgeous flavour with the aniseed from the fennel, the sweet citrus of the clementines and the tender chicken. The nice caramelisation added to the sweetness with a slight but delightful bitterness. This was without doubt one of the best recipes I’ve tried in a while and most definitely to be repeated very soon.