Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Golden Cardamom Chicken with Crispy Onion Spiced Rice

The theme for this weeks Cookbook Challenge was Bird.  Now bird is a very broad theme, lots of different birds out there, chicken, duck, quail and pheasant just to name a few & cookbooks have hundreds of recipes for them.  Despite this I had a hard time deciding what to make.  I think when the theme is so broad and there is too much choice I have trouble making up my mind.  I nearly went for duck confit, a dish I am dying to make but due to the amount of duck I have consumed lately (out & home cooked) and the amount of fat involved I thought I would stick to some simple chicken.   I guess I consider chicken to be a very boring meat, in fact when I got married I didnt have any chicken on the menu for the same reason & the staff organizing totally agreed with me.  Dont get me wrong I eat a lot of chicken and enjoy it though it usually features in very simple dishes in this house.

In the end I found this very interesting sounding dish from Nigella Lawson's Feast cookbook.  It falls under the wedding chapter & serves lots as part of a banquet, I halved the ingredients & it fed us for 2 nights.  I normally tend to shy away from frying in so much oil but it was the weekend & it was for the good of the challenge so away I went.  I marinated the chicken for 2 days & it was extremely tender, the cardamom lent a lovely & very subtle flavour among all the other spices in the marinade.  The coating was nice & crispy & again had some beautiful flavour.  It also tasted great the next day straight from the fridge so it would be ideal picnic food to drag along as well.  The rice was tasty too & love the crispy onion, have always been a sucker for near burnt fried onion slices.  The icing on the cake would have been the sweet and crunchy pomegranate seeds but alas not in season.

Golden Cardamom Chicken with Crispy Onion Spiced Rice - Nigella Lawson - Feast

For the Chicken and the Marinade

zest and juice of 1 lemon
1 onion
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cardamom seeds (from abt 5 pods)
2 fat garlic cloves
125ml olive oil
1/2 tablespoon Maldon Salt or 1 teaspoon table salt
1.5kg boned and skinned chicken thighs

For the coating

4 eggs
175g cornflour
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon fine salt
vegetable oil for frying

For the Rice

1 onion
3 tablespoons oliv eoil
500g basmati rice
3 cardamom pods, crushed
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 litre hot chicken stock
75g pine nuts, toasted
1-2 tablespoons chopped parsley
1-2 tablespoons chopped mint
1-2 tablespoons chopped coriander

To finish
1-2 tablespoons pomegranate seeds (if available)

To marinate the chicken, put the lemon juice, peeled & roughly chopped onion, allspice, pepper, cardamom seeds, peeled garlic, oil and salt into a processor and blitz to a pulp.  Chop the chicken pieces in half, add the marinade to coat & leave in the fridge overnight or for up to 2 days. 

let the chicken come to room temperature while you start the rice.  Peel the onion and slice into very thin half moons.  Heat the oil in a wide saucepan (one which has a lid) and cook the sliced onions in the oil over a fairly high heat until darkly golden and very crispy.  Remove to a plate and reserve for later.

Turn the heat down, add the rice and spices to the pan and turn in the oil until the rice is slicked and glossy.  Add the stock and let the pan come to the boil, then put the lid on & turn the heat down to the lowest setting.  Cook without peeking for 15 minutes by which time all the water should have been absorbed.  Take off the heat and leave to rest for 5 minutes.

While the rice is cooking you can get on with your chicken.  Beat the eggs together and in a separate bowl, combine the cornflour, allspice, paprika and salt.

Pour enough oil into a pan until it comes about 1cm up the sides & heat until sizzling.  Shake excess marinade off chicken, coat in flour mix, then eggs & place in the frypan.  Cook until golden and crispy (about 10 ,minutes - I did mine one side at a time for 5 mins each), cut into a piece to make sure it's cooked through - thicker pieces may need longer, then remove to a plate lined with paper towel.  Continue until all of the chicken is done.

When ready to serve, stir the pine nuts and most of the onion & herbs through the rice.  Tip onto a serving platter, top with the chicken & finish off  with the rest of the onion & herbs & pomegranate seeds if you have any.

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