Middle Eastern Chicken on Flatbread with Fattoush

Another busy week this week  included William Curleys‘ Patissiere, awesome Massamam Curry at Chaophraya in Manchester, amazing Arnavut Cigeri (Albanian Style Lambs Liver) & Kaniyarik (Aubergine stuffed with mince meat, onions, peppers, tomatoes cooked in the oven and served with rice), at Meze in Darlington. Oh, and a couple of full english breakfasts!!

It’s me and the ‘Bosses’ 25th wedding anniversary this year, and to do something a bit different we are planning a trip to Padstow, to attend a two-day Indian course at Rick Stein’s Cookery School, watch this space for a review if we manage to make it.

Back to the kitchen and more middle eastern inspired food, this time chicken….

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WARNING, ITS GOING TO GET GORY AND MESSY, SPATCHCOCKING A CHICKEN IS NOT PRETTY

Every time I am in the kitchen I try to do something new or different (or both!), this time was the art of spatchcocking. Before dealing with the Chicken, I prepared a marinade.  A pot of Yeo organic Yogurt is put into a bowl with a good generous handful of chopped fresh Thyme, the same of coriander, 4 tablespoons of Harissa paste, a teaspoon of Sumac, a teaspoon of Coriander powder, 1/2 a teaspoon of Cumin. Add the grated zest of a Lemon, and its juice and mix together well. Set aside whilst we prepare the chicken.

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Take your chicken and turn it over so that its Breast side is facing away from you and the open cavity is on the top. Take a sharp knife (Or kitchen scissors if you have them), and cut close to the bone that runs down the centre of the chicken. You should end up with a cut like above. Turn the Chicken over so you can finish the cut safely.

Next, place the Chicken with the open flesh face down on the chopping board with the breast side up. Put your hands on the body, pushing down to flatten and ‘break’ the spine firmly.

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It should look like the picture above, I was a bit nervous about this process but its actually quite easy to do if you take it steady and be careful with the knife!

So that’s the Chicken and marinade sorted, you now need to cut through and ‘slash’ the Chicken in several places to let the marinade penetrate and impart its flavour.  Mine looked like this after the next element of butchery!!

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The next stage is to place the Chicken on a roasting tray and smother it in the marinade, a lovely messy job but very satisfying. Make sure you massage the marinade into the cuts to make sure the flavours penetrate right into the meat.  I put mine in the fridge after this stage and left to rest for about 7 hours….

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Next step is to prepare the Fattoush, a Middle Eastern Salad of toasted Bread, Tomatoes, Onions, Radishes, Dill, Parsley, Sumac, in fact loads of delicious flavours.  There are many different variations on this dish and the one I chose was a variation on the lovely Bethany Kehdy, and her new book ‘The Jewelled Kitchen’, its beautiful and one of my favourites at the moment.

It’s an exercise in ‘Mis en place’, a phrase used in professional kitchens meaning put in place or preparing everything ready for cooking or construction, in the ways of salads.

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As an experiment, I changed some of the ingredients slightly, adding about 150 grams of mixed Red Quinoa, White Quinoa and Bulgur Wheat that had been boiled for 10 minutes and left to cool.  I made a dressing from thinly sliced Red Onion, 60ml of Rapeseed Oil, 4 table spoons of Sherry Vinegar, some Salt and Pepper and massaged it all together leaving it to marinade for 10-15 minutes.

My Fattoush looked like this when completed.

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Prior to starting cooking, I had popped into Waitrose to pick up some bits and pieces (read wine!), and was considering what and how to serve the Chicken. Not being inclined to spend too much time on making bread I found some interesting looking Italian Flatbreads that were thicker than a Tortilla, and had some body and texture to them.  These were going to be the ‘blanket’ for the dish.

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I came up with an idea to make them even more interesting, and it involved a 1/2 inch paint brush!!

I had some Ghee in the cupboard so took my trusty brush (that is really handy in the kitchen), and brushed each Bread with the Ghee all over.  I then sprinkled Dukkah and Za’atar over both, giving them a good covering as evenly as possible.

Prior to serving, the bread’s were put together with the clean side on the outside, and heated through in a frying pan for a couple of minutes before turning over and repeating on the other side.

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The Chicken needs about 1 1/2 hours in the oven, I used a temperature of 170 degrees in our fan assisted beast. The smells coming from the kitchen invoked memories of wandering around  Jemaa el-Fnaa in Marrakesh, Morroco. The market square is famous for the food stalls that start cooking late afternoon and swamp the area with amazing aromas and exotic spices.

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The Chicken was roughly divided and placed onto the warm Flatbread and served with the Salad. It was absolutely delicious and actually really simple to make. You can prep the Chicken in the Morning and leave to marinade. The Salad is mostly a construction exercise, the results will delight the palate.

Have a go yourself, I am pleased I did.

L8ers, till next time.

Jules

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