Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Lebanese Lemon Chicken with Quinoa

Lebanese Lemon Chicken with Quinoa
Home Cooking

It's been a long, long time since I've put up a home cooking post! In my 4 weeks off work, I've been cooking like a crazy woman. Literally, there are days where the only thing that motivates me to get out of bed is cooking.

This Hungry Kittens blog was always intended to be a mix of cooking and restaurant posts but as time went by, it focused more on the latter because eating out was all I ever did. A year ago, I could have confidently said that I preferred dining at a restaurant than making my own food. Not so much anymore... maybe it's another mark of old age or maybe I'm actually getting better at cooking but I've really started to find joy in it.

This recipe is from Jamie Oliver's 'Jamie's Kitchen'. I modified it by using plain lemon instead of preserved lemon (couldn't find any at my supermarket) and quinoa instead of farika. I also used chicken thighs instead of a whole chicken. I nearly put it on my clean eating blog Coralia's Kitchen because overall, it's a really healthy dish but I'm putting it here instead because there's a bit of flour in the sauce. Anyway it's still pretty healthy in my opinion.

Lebanese Lemon Chicken with Quinoa
Serves 4

  • 8 x chicken chicken thighs
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp black peppercorns
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 heaped tablespoons of flour
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large bulb of fennel, roughly chopped (keep the herby top)
  • 1 red onion, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 2-3 small lemons (or preserved lemons), chopped
  • 1 small bunch of rosemary, roughly chopped
  • 150g quinoa (can use farika or bulghur wheat instead)
  • 1 wineglass of tequila, vodka or white wine (I used white wine)
  • 565ml chicken stock or water
  • sour cream or creme fraiche to serve (I used natural yoghurt)

1. Preheat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
2. Bash all the spices in a mortar pestle with salt until you have a fine powder.
3. Add flour to your spices and mix well. Rub this flavoured flour all over your chicken and inside every nook and cranny. If you have leftover flour, reserve for later.
4. Heat an appropriately-sized casserole pan or roasting tray and add 5 tablespoons of olive oil. Brown your chicken on all sides.
5. Once the chicken is nicely coloured, remove to a plate. Turn down the heat and add your fennel, onion, preserved lemons and rosemary to the pan or tray. Fry for around 5 minutes or until softened.
6. Add the excess flour to the onion mixture and add your quinoa and give it a good stir.
7. Add the tequila, vodka or wine and allow to cook down.
8. Cover with chicken stock or water until it reaches the same level as the grains and veggies.
9. Place a sheet of baking paper over the quinoa and veggies and then place the chicken on top.
10. Put the entire pan/tray into the preheated oven and cook for about 45 minues.
11. Serve immediately with a dollop of sour cream (or creme fraiche or yoghurt) and fresh fennel fronds.

I made this dish while I was recovering from surgery and it was the first non-soup item I ate in full. It felt so good to have something substantial like chicken and quinoa that was still easy to eat. I thought this was a fantastic dish. The spices are really strong and fragrant but the lemon keeps it fresh. I loved that it has grains and protein in one so you only needed this one dish for a complete meal. It made it easier when it came to leftovers too.

Marc commented that this was too lemony for him and I think this might be because I used fresh lemon instead of preserved lemon. I didn't have a problem with it and I was surprised at how soft and easy to eat fresh lemon (including the skin) became once it was cooked in the oven.

I found the natural greek yoghurt added at the end to be essential in bringing all the flavours together. Quinoa can be quite boring on its own but cooked in a dish like this, it soaks up all the flavours and is both nutritious and highly tasty.

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