A few months ago, this lovely book showed up at my door: Poulet: More Than 50 Remarkable Recipes That Exalt the Honest Chicken (Chronicle) by Cree LeFavour, and I kept thinking: why, why, why was I not smart enough to come up with a brilliant idea like this one.. and oh, is this book well-executed.
This is no ordinary book. If you love chicken, then you will fall in love. The book is smartly organized by global flavors. So when you think of American chicken, the book has dishes like grilled chicken with a blistering BBQ sauce, and then the author, smartly, pairs the chicken dish with complementary sides like breads, salads, etc. Other profiles include Bistro, Latin, East and South Asian, and North African/Mediterranean. I keep looking at the photos, very longingly, and want to cook everything in the book at least once! Other dishes that caught my eye were the Bedouin stew, Piri Piri kuku, and the preserved lemon chicken with olives!
Here is one dish we tried and loved. The recipe is printed here with permission from Chronicle Books and the photo is provided by Chronicle as well.
Bedouin Stew with Fresh Garlic Chickpeas and Tomato Relish
From Poulet by Cree LeFlavour (Chronicle Books) Printed with permission
The Bedouin tribes of the Sahara are famous for their hospitality despite their historically nomadic culture and the desert’s rugged environmental conditions. I imagine this stew might be what Peter O’Toole would have eaten—if he ate at all—as he crossed the desert in the 1962 film, Lawrence of Arabia. If you’d like to eat in the Bedouin manner, rather than serving the pieces whole, shred the chicken into the sauce and make a pot of rice. Get rid of all forks, knives and spoons and use your (right!) hand to make balls of rice, chicken and sauce. Pop them into your mouth and return for another.
8 to 10 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs or one 3- to 4-lb/1.4- to 1.8-kg chicken
1 tbsp peanut oil, plus more for the chicken
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 tsp ground tumeric
1 serrano or habanero chile, minced
1 tbsp ground coriander
2 tomatoes, chopped
3 cups/720 ml chicken stock
1/4 cup/10 g chopped fresh mint leaves
Juice of 1 lemon
Coarse salt for finishing
Rub the chicken with peanut oil and sprinkle on a pinch of salt before setting it out on the countertop for 30 minutes to take the chill off before you begin cooking.
Heat the 1 tbsp oil in a 12-in/30-cm or larger cast-iron frying pan or a 5-qt/5-l or larger Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Working in batches, lay the chicken in the pan, skin-side down, and cook, turning frequently, until browned on both sides, about 10 minutes. (For a whole chicken, brown the bottom and sides only as the top will brown in the oven.) Transfer the chicken to a plate and pour off any excess fat but don’t wash the pan.
Add the garlic, turmeric, chile, coriander, tomatoes, and 1/2 tsp kosher salt to the pan. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, until you begin to smell the garlic and some of the moisture from the tomato has evaporated, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the stock and stir before returning the chicken to the pan, skin-side up (or breast-side up for a whole chicken). Cook for 30 minutes before either inserting an instant-read thermometer into the thickest part of a thigh or cutting into one with a paring knife. A thermometer should register 175°F/80°C. If using a knife, look for clear, not red or pink, juices running from the spot where you pierced the meat and opaque, barely pink flesh at the joint. If the chicken isn’t done, roast for 5 or 10 minutes longer and check it again.
Remove the chicken from the pot and pour the liquid into a fat separator. (You can also use a heatproof glass jar and use a spoon to skim off as much fat as you can.) Return the deffated liquid to the pan, add the mint and lemon juice and season with pepper. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Carve the chicken if using a whole bird. Finish the chicken with a pinch of flaky salt and serve.
Fresh Garlic Chickpeas
Appearing more and more often in markets, fresh chickpeas are an oddity most people don’t know what to do with. Buy a big bag! After living for years with only the wan canned or dried varieties, it’s such a pleasure to experience the subtle milky green of the fresh pea. The peeling takes time but if you have children around, let them pitch in. If you can’t find fresh chickpeas, use well rinsed canned chickpeas.
2 tbsp olive oil
3 cups/430 g fresh chickpeas, peeled
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
Flaky salt for finishing
In a heavy sauté pan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the chickpeas and cook gently for 10 minutes before adding the garlic. Cook until the chickpeas are tender and the garlic is soft and fragrant, another 3 to 5 minutes longer. Transfer to a serving bowl and sprinkle with a generous pinch of coarse salt.
A condiment that adds color and acidity to everything on the plate.
2 large ripe tomatoes, chopped
2 tbsp cider vinegar
1/4 cup/10 g fresh parsley leaves, chopped
1/2 tsp kosher salt
In a small serving bowl, mix together the tomatoes, vinegar, parsley, and salt. Enjoy at room temperature.