Monday, June 20, 2011

Fennel Bulbs au Gratin

Halved, steamed in a pressure cooker for a few minutes, then placed in a buttered pyrex dish, sprinkled with butter and grated Gruyère cheese, under the broiler for 5 minutes.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Lemon chicken with olives, in a tomato sauce, with yellow chard

Two of our closest friends moved to New Zealand last summer for a year and we were fortunate enough to visit them last month. It was so nice to spend some time with them and to discover this beautiful country (our first time south of the Equator!).

To welcome us, our friends prepared an amazing tajine dish* of chicken, green olives and preserved lemons (not exactly a typical Kiwi dish, but rather a nice reminiscence of our friend's childhood in North Africa). I must have had this dish in mind when I pulled ingredients out of the fridge the other night and prepared the chicken dish that follows.

Serves 4
  • 4 whole chicken legs
  • 1/2 jar (12 oz) strained tomatoes
  • about 20 olives
  • juice of 2 lemons
  • 4 thin slices of pancetta, diced
  • 1 cup white wine (Chardonnay or Pinot Grigio)
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and halved, stem removed
  • 1 bunch yellow chard leaves, whole or coarsely chopped
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
I like whole (non pitted) kalamata or mixed Greek olives, in bulk (not canned). For chicken, I always go organic since chicken is cheap anyway. Same with lemons.

Marinate the chicken legs in lemon juice for about 1/2 hour or simply until the other ingredients are ready (chard washed, pancetta diced, etc.)

Heat the olive oil in a heavy bottom pan or a cocotte. Add the diced pancetta and let it color for a few minutes. Set aside. Drain excess fat from the pan if necessary.

Drain the chicken legs (keep the marinade). Season the chicken legs with salt and pepper, then add them to the pan. Brown on every side.

Add the strained tomatoes, lemon juice marinade, olives, pancetta, garlic, and white wine. Stir. Bring to a simmer and cook, covered, for about 1/2 hour.

Move the chicken legs to one side of the pan then plunge the chard leaves in the tomato sauce. Stir until wilted (2 minutes maximum).

Serve with wild rice or bulghur (cracked wheat).

* Our friends' recipe more authentically Mediterranean than the above week-night "invention", and includes olive oil, onions, garlic, and most importantly ras el hanout (a North African spice blend).