Well, I am finally back! I was away travelling the last couple of months around Ladakh, Mumbai, Kuala Lampur and then a couple of weeks in London. Happy now to be home in NYC! For those of you who have not been to Ladakh yet, get yourself up there! It is a stunning part of India on the border of Tibet. The scenery is just spectacular, its rugged beauty will astound you, making you feel like you are on the moon at times!
On my stay in London I was very happy to pay Ottolenghi’s Nopi a visit with some good fiends, as usual they offered up some real in your face flavors. Upon returning home, I found myself still in a very Ottolenghi inspired mood! So I decided to try out his extremely tantalizing harissa-marinated chicken with red grapefruit salad from Ottolenghi The Cookbook.
I had never made my own harissa before, this one is Tunisian and turned out nice and smokey, very different to the Moroccan harissa I usually have which is a lot more lemony with the preserved lemon flavors quite strong.The grapefruit, lemon and maple syrup sauce smells divine and glistens beautifully, effortlessly making your mouth water. It tastes simply amazing, almost like sunshine! Really makes the whole dish come alive by allowing the citrus flavors to mingle nicely with the smoky flavors of the harissa and make the dish truly sing.
The left over chicken tastes really great the next day wrapped up in a pitta with some hummus, chilli paste, onions, salad leaves, and of course with lashings of the tangy gorgeous grapefruit sauce drizzled over the top. I think the extra sauce could be used to make dressings for salads too, it is so tasty you want to eat every last drop of it.
Harissa-marinated chicken with pink grapefruit salad
800 g chicken thighs (boneless and skinless)
For the harissa marinade
1 red pepper
1/2 tsp coriander seeds
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp caraway seeds
1/2 tbsp olive oil
1 small red onion, roughly chopped
3 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
2 mild fresh red chillies, seeded and roughly chopped
1 dried red chilli, seeded and roughly chopped
1/2 tbsp tomato puree
2 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp Greek yogurt (or strained plain yogurt)
For the pink grapefruit salad
2 pink grapefruits
120 g peppery wild rocket
1 tsp olive oil
course sea salt and black pepper
For the sauce
150 ml pink grapefruit juice
130 ml lemon juice
150 ml maple syrup (or honey)
1/4 tsp salt
a pinch ground cinnamon
1 star anise
1 First make the marinade for the chicken. Over a gas ring or under a very hot grill, toast the red pepper until blackened on the outside. This should typically take about 8 min on an open flame, 15-20 min under a very hot grill. Place the pepper in a bowl, cover with cling film and leave to cool. Peel the pepper and discard the seeds.
2 Place a dry frying pan on a low heat and lightly toast the coriander, cumin and caraway seeds for 2 min. You should be able to smell the aromas of the spices. Transfer them to a pestle and mortar and grind to a powder.
3 Heat the olive oil in a frying pan, add the onion, garlic, and fresh and dried chillies and fry until they turn a dark, smoky colour. Now blitz together all the marinade ingredients except the yogurt in a food processor or blender; you will have a pure harissa paste.
4 To marinate the chicken, mix the paste with the yogurt and use your hands to rub it all over the chicken thighs. Layer them in a plastic container, seal and refrigerate overnight.
5 The next day, take each grapefruit and use a small, sharp knife to slice off the top and tail. Now cut down its sides, following its natural lines, to remove the skin and white pith. Over a small bowl, cut in between the membranes to remove the individual segments. Squeeze any remaining juice into a bowl and keep to make up the 150 ml juice required for the sauce.
6 Preheat the oven to 220 degrees C. Lay out the marinated chicken pieces, spaced well apart, on a large baking tray and place in the hot oven. After 5 min, reduce the oven temperature to 180 degrees C and cook for another 12-15 min, until the chicken is almost cooked. Now place the chicken under a hot grill to give it extra colour and cook it through completely.
7 Meanwhile, place all the sauce ingredients in a small pan and bring to a light simmer. Simmer for about 20 min, or until reduced to a third.
8 To serve, toss the rocket and grapefruit segments with the olive oil, salt and pepper, Pile in the centre of 4 serving plates, put the warm chicken on top and drizzle about a tablespoonful of the sauce over each portion.