North African chicken with honey and saffron
- October 2013
- 1.75kg free-range chicken, jointed into 8 pieces (Find out how to joint a chicken here)
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, crushed
- 5cm fresh ginger, finely grated
- 2 x 5cm cinnamon stick pieces
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- 800g skinned and chopped tomatoes, fresh or tinned
- 1 tsp harissa paste, rose if you can get it (we like Belazu)
- 300ml chicken stock (see Debbie’s tip)
- ½ tsp saffron strands
- 2 tbsp clear honey
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 tsp orange blossom water (see tip – we like Nielsen-Massey)
For the lemon and mint couscous
- 25g salted butter, plus 25g melted
- 100g slivered or flaked almonds
- 3 tbsp white sesame seeds
- 250g organic wholewheat couscous or barley couscous (we like Belazu)
- ½ tsp salt
- 2-3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- Finely grated zest of 1 small lemon and 1-2 tbsp juice
- 4 small preserved lemons, pulp discarded, skin finely chopped
- Small bunch of fresh coriander, coarsely chopped
- Small bunch of fresh mint, leaves finely chopped
- Skin the chicken pieces, then season all over. Heat 2 tbsp of the oil in a sauté pan or shallow flameproof casserole. Add the chicken and fry, turning, until browned all over. Lift onto a plate and keep warm.
- Add the rest of the oil and the onion to the pan, then cook over a medium- high heat, stirring, for 6-7 minutes until soft and golden. Add the garlic, fresh ginger and cinnamon, then cook for 2-3 minutes more. Add the ground ginger and cook for 1 minute.
- Stir in the tomatoes and harissa and cook gently for 5 minutes. Stir in the chicken stock, saffron and some seasoning to taste, then bring to the boil. Return the chicken to the pan, cover and simmer for 25 minutes.
- When the chicken is cooked, lift the pieces onto a plate and cover with cling film to keep moist. Turn up the heat and bubble the sauce briskly for about 10 minutes until reduced by about half. Add the honey, simmer for 2 minutes more, then stir in the lemon juice and orange blossom water. Taste and season.
- Meanwhile, for the couscous, melt the 25g butter in a small frying pan, add the almonds and fry gently, stirring all the time, until golden. Tip onto kitchen paper and leave to cool. Toast the sesame seeds in a clean dry pan over a medium-high heat, shaking now and then, until golden. Tip onto a saucer to cool.
- Return the chicken to the pan, coat the pieces in the sauce, then cover and simmer for 5 minutes until heated through.
- Put the couscous and salt in a heatproof bowl, pour over 300ml boiling water, cover with a clean tea towel and leave for 5 minutes. Uncover and fluff with a fork, then stir in the 25g melted butter, olive oil, lemon zest, lemon juice to taste, preserved lemon skin, three quarters of the fried almonds, 2 tbsp of the sesame seeds and three quarters of the herbs. Taste and season.
- Scatter the chicken with the rest of the almonds, sesame seeds and herbs. Serve with the couscous.
The orange blossom water adds fragrance and flavour. It’s in most supermarkets, but if you can’t find any, use the finely grated zest of 1 orange instead.
To make stock from the leftover carcass, wing tips and drumstick knuckles: put the bones in a pan with 1 small sliced leek, 1 sliced onion, 1 sliced carrot, 2 bay leaves, a fresh thyme sprig and a few black peppercorns. Cover with cold water, bring to the boil, part cover with a lid and simmer very gently for 1 hour, then strain.
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