Friday, January 6, 2012

Jamie Oliver's Lebanese Lemon Chicken with Moorish Crunch Salad

Dearest Jessica,

It is well known that we like Jamie Oliver. His books, style, magazines, TV shows... everything.

That being said... Jason got me a present. Jamie's Kitchen. The book is beautiful! Full of amazing pictures, recipes and tutorials! I was given this gift during a work shift so I was unable to dive into it as soon as I would have preferred. When we got home, however, it was a whole different story. I snuggled up on the couch with a cup of peppermint tea, a stack of post-its, a pen, and the book. I only bookmarked the recipes I want to make immediately... because eventually I would like to make them all!

Yesterday I decided to make dinner for my parents. I called Jason and asked him to pick out two recipes (one salad and one main) from the bookmarked pages of Jamie's Kitchen. He couldn't have chosen any better than this: Lebanese Lemon Chicken with Moorish Crunch Salad.

We learned many things from these two recipes alone. For the chicken we got to follow some great (and photo-illustrated!) instructions on how to cut a whole chicken down to sizes appropriate for a serving; and we learned what a 'cartouche' is and how to make one. For the salad we were reminded what 'tahini' is and where we can get it fresh in Peterborough (The Main Ingredient!) We were also reminded that salads can be so interesting and hold so much flavor by themselves. A lot of times we just see it as a 'side' to the main course. This salad held it's own for sure. (I added chicken to the leftovers and will eat it for lunch today! So excited!) 

Moorish Crunch Salad (serves 4)
adapted from Jamie's Kitchen, Page 29
10 1/2oz carrots, peeled
5 1/2oz radishes
2 crunchy eating apples
1 small handful of dark or white raisins (I left these out)
1 handful of fresh parsley, roughly chopped
1 handful of fresh mint, roughly chopped
4 tbsp sherry or red wine vinegar
8 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp Tahiti
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp sesame seeds, toasted in the oven

First of all, finely slice your carrots into matchstick-sized batons. Finely slice your radishes - you can leave a little of the tops on if you like. Quarter your apples, remove the cores and finely slice. Add all these to a bowl with the rest of the ingredients, apart from the sesame seeds. Toss together, carefully checking the seasons, and serve with the sesame seeds sprinkled over the top. Eat straight away.

Try this: Turn it into a warm salad by adding some pan-seared chicken, shrimp or scallops which hae been dusted with a little paprika.

And this: Make it more of a snack by frying some halloumi cheese until golden with some chopped fresh chilli and crumbling this over the top.

Or this: Grill some pita bread and serve stuffed with Crunch Salad. Crumble in some feta cheese too. Lovely.

Lebanese Lemon Chicken (Serves 4)
adapted from Jamie's Kitchen, Page 164

Note: this can be made into a veggie dish. Instead of chicken you can use root veggies such as carrots, potatoes, onions etc. and veggie stock instead of chicken stock. It will still be very tasty!

1 large chicken, cut for sautéing (If you can't find instructions for this, you can just use 4 chicken breasts instead.)
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp fennel seeds
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp black peppercorns
1 tsp sea salt
3 heaping tbsp flour
extra virgin olive oil
1 large bulb of fennel, roughly chopped, herby tops chopped and reserved (I didn't use this. I'm not the biggest fan of fennel.)
1 red onion, peeled and roughly chopped
2-3 small preserved lemons, chopped (no where in Peterborough has these... I just used lemon juice)
1 small bunch of fresh rosemary, roughly chopped
2/3 cup farika or bulghur wheat (I used bulghur)
1 wineglass of tequila, vodka or white wine (I used white wine)
2 cups chicken stock or water
1 small tub of sour cream or créme fraiche (I used light sour cream... Greek yogurt would also work!)

1. Preheat the oven to 350F. First, cut your chicken for sauté, then bash all the spices up with a mortar and pestle with the salt until you have a fine powder. Add your flour and mix together well. Rub this intensely flavored flour all over your chicken and in every crack and cranny. You may have a little flour left over, so just reserve this for later.

2. Heat an appropriately sized casserole-type pan, or a roasting pan, on the stovetop and add 5 tbsp of olive oil. Begin to brown your chicken pieces on all sides - you want them to fry in one layer. Once they are nicely coloured, remove to a plate, turn down the heat and then add your fennel, onion, preserved lemons and rosemary to the pan. Fry for around 5 minutes, until nice and softened. Then add any excess flavored flour and your farika or bulghur wheat, and give it a good stir.

3. Add tequila, vodka or wine and allow to cook down to leave a fabulous fresh and fragrant taste. Cover with chicken stock or water until it reaches the same level as the grains and the veg. Now you need to make a cartouche. (a piece of parchment paper cut to the size of your dish/pan) Run it under the tap to make it flexible, then rub it with olive oil so it doesn't stick. Place the cartouche over the couscous and veg in the pan and put the chicken on top. Place in the preheated oven and cook for 45 minutes, until the chicken skin is really crisp. Sometimes the grains start to burn on the bottom and they get a little bit of colour. I quite like it when this happens, but to prevent it just make sure you place the pan at the top of the oven so it's not getting direct heat from the bottom. Serve straight away with a good dollop of sour cream or créme fraiche and sprinkle with the fennel tops.

(For serving: place chicken in one dish, discard your cartouche and place bulghur mixture in another dish.)

It all came together so wonderfully! I prepared the chicken first, and put the salad together in the last 10 minutes of the chicken baking. The flavours were amazing in both the chicken and the salad. The salad is so crunchy and satisfying! To add to all this, my mom did a quick calculation of how much this meal costs, and she estimated it came to only four dollars a plate! I was very impressed with this meal.

I hope all is well on your end. Wedding plans, teaching and everything else. I am very excited to start our training program for Oxfam. Lots of fun times to come!

All My Love,


  1. The last photo is my favorite. But I do like the food photos too!

  2. Haha, I agree Jess. That last one is perfect.

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