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Chicken and green lentil traybake

So, I’m onto my second Ottolenghi recipe. I’ll confess, I had as much fun thinking about this as actually making it. Given my significantly reduced commutes and increased energy as a result this, I am writing down the recipes in a little notebook and thinking about how I’m going to adapt according to my cupboard contents. The lockdown has meant that I cannot just pop out to the store and pick up the odd esoteric or even ordinary ingredient. It means I’ll just either leave it out or find what I think might be a suitable alternative. I have to say, my finished product in this culinary adventure was perhaps far removed from the original!

Chicken legs were substituted with chicken thighs. I did not use onions in the place of shallots – because I forgot (!). My husband is not is not keen on hot and spicy things (apart from me of course…) so I did not add any chilli. As for the green split-peas, I had looked on the shelves for this item when I did my mother’s weekly shop and did not find anything. So, I used a can of green lentils, yes, I really did. And last of all, no limes in the shop, so I used a lemon – it’s not the same, it’s all I had. But I did have maple syrup, a random buy from on my slightly random trips to Aldi.

What did I like about making this? 

Cutting a whole clove of garlic in half and baking an orange. I loved making the ‘marinade’, I wonder if touching the food is really part of cooking it. This felt a bit like art instead of cooking.

What did it taste like?

So I read somewhere that Ottolenghi is unapologetic in his quest for food with flavour that stimulates the pallatte “I want drama in the mouth

This certainly was a meal worth turning up for (granted we have nowhere else to go!). I’m not sure I can do justice to the taste experience but for me the things that stood out were the cc seeds. The cumin and coriander seeds were crunchy and present in every mouthful. I guess I am used to crushing them or using the powdered version, so the whole seeds provided a taste and texture that I am relatively unfamiliar with but as I crunched away, I embraced the little blasts of flavour that occurred with each mouthful. Maybe it goes without saying, but the chicken was delicious. Maybe I should say it was tender and juicy, lovely. 

I made a small amount of rice to eat with the first serving and the combination was perfect.

The next evening we had the leftovers with cous cous and the last portion was eaten with mashed potatoes. Yum. So comforting.

I was quite excited by this meal. It was so easy to make and I feel like there are many variations on this traybake that I can experiment with when I decide again to cook chicken. In theory, when lockdown is lifted and I have to go to work, I should already have up my sleeve a string of easy cook recipes to use and prepare for when the inevitable fatigue sets in. Or perhaps I should rephrase that and say, in our new reality post lockdown, I will ensure I am better at meal planning and batch cooking than I was Before COVID-19 (B.C. to you and me…). In the new reality post lockdown, I will pace myself and demand a better work-life balance, with a number of non-negotiables i.e. regular sleep, exercise and good food.

We shall see we shall see.

Happy cooking peeps and keep safe!

Prep 15 min
Cook 1 hr 45 min
Serves 4

skin-on chicken legs (1.1kg)
1 orange, quartered
1 jalapeño chilli, cut in half lengthways (or 2 if you like heat)
1 garlic bulb, cut in half widthways
banana shallots, peeled and quartered lengthways 
1 tsp chipotle chilli flakes 
2 tsp coriander seeds
2 tsp cumin seeds
60ml olive oil
30ml maple syrup
Salt
500ml chicken stock
200g dried green split peas, rinsed
1 tbsp lime juice
1-2 tbsp coriander leaves, roughly chopped

Heat the oven to 220C (200C fan)/425F/gas 7. Put the first eight ingredients in a large bowl with 50ml oil, 20ml maple syrup and a teaspoon and a half of salt, then toss with your hands until the chicken is well coated.

In a separate bowl, combine the stock, 150ml water, the split peas and half a teaspoon of salt.

Pour the peas and stock into a 30cm x 35cm baking dish, then top with the chicken and its marinade, arranging the legs so they are skin side up and spaced apart. Cover the dish tightly with foil, bake for an hour, then remove the foil and brush the chicken with the remaining 10ml each of oil and maple syrup, and sprinkle over an eighth of a teaspoon of salt. Return to the oven, uncovered, for 20 minutes, or until the skin is golden brown and crisp and the peas are cooked through but still retain a little bite. When cool enough to handle, squeeze the garlic cloves out of their papery skins and stir into the peas.

Pour the lime juice evenly over the top, finish with a scattering of coriander and serve hot.

References

https://www.theguardian.com/food/2019/jan/19/yotam-ottolenghi-recipes-traybakes-pork-mushroom-pasta-spicy-chicken-chickpeas

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