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Oct 22, 2017
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Intelligent Content For The Food Fascinated
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SERVING SAINT LOUIS SINCE 1999
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By the Book: À la Grecque, Our Greek Table by Pam Talimanidis

October 5th 02:10pm, 2016

BTB_Oct16_Round3_1

 

Thus far in our By the Book challenge, the selected Greek cookbooks have produced delicious Mediterranean dishes, but they were surprisingly lax in their instruction. À la Grecque had its confusing moments, but considering the vagaries of the previous cookbooks, it was downright educational.

This recipe called for saffron, which I always regarded as an unnecessary luxury in my kitchen. But once I bit the bullet and purchased a half-gram from Penzey’s (only $9), I learned a little goes a long way. A wee pinch turned the onion-based sauce a lovely golden hue – and I still have plenty of those delicate red threads to make paella.

Once browned, it only took 20 minutes of braising for the chicken to cook through. The meat fell from the bone when I served it the next day; though to be fair, a rest overnight likely contributed to that tenderness. A quick note: This dish must be served over a base of rice or couscous, which will absorb the salty, schmaltzy sauce.

Skill level: Easy. Most dishes require 10 ingredients or less, and nothing is too difficult to track down.
This book is for: Semi-skilled home cooks who want a taste of Greece without leaving home
Other recipes to try: Mussels with rice and dill, slow-cooked beef with braised eggplant
The verdict: While last week’s lamb shanks were downright decadent, olives and lemon zest brightened up this multidimensional chicken dish. À La Grecque takes the win.

 

BTB_Oct16_Round3_2

 

Braised Chicken with Green Olives, Lemon and Saffron
4 servings

1 lemon
Salt
1 1.6 kg. (3½ lb.) free-range chicken
125 ml (4 oz.) extra-virgin olive oil
2 onions, sliced
2 cloves garlic, sliced
20 threads saffron*
200 g. (7 oz.) green olives, pitted and sliced
500 ml (17 oz.) chicken stock
Freshly ground black pepper

• Use a vegetable peeler to peel fine strips of zest from the lemon. Slice the zest into thin julienne strips. Place them in a small saucepan and cover with boiling water from the kettle. Add a teaspoon of salt and boil for 2 to 3 minutes. Drain well and reserve the zest.
• Joint the chicken into thighs, drumsticks and wings and cut each breast in half, keeping it on the bone.
• Heat the oil in a heavy-based saucepan or casserole dish. Season the chicken pieces with salt and pepper and fry the chicken pieces in batches over a high heat until the skin is crisp and golden. As each batch is browned, transfer to a bowl. If the chicken has a lot of fat, drain some of it away.
• Add the onions to the pan and saute for a few minutes until they begin to soften and turn a light golden brown. Add the garlic, saffron and olives and stir. Return the browned chicken pieces to the pan and add the reserved lemon zest and chicken stock.
• Cover the pan with a tight-fitting lid and bring to the boil. Lower the temperature and simmer 15 to 20 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary. Serve with couscous or Saffron Pilaf.

*Saffron can be found at Penzey’s Spices

Reprinted with permission from Hardie Grant Books

By Catherine Klene

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