My new Jerusalem cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi enchants and entices me on every page. Somehow the authors manage to transform traditional and familiar dishes from Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisine into even more delicious, vibrant, and novel flavor combinations. We had the roasted chicken with clementines last night (substituting ouzo for arak), and it was sensational! The recipe heaps on intense anise seasonings from fennel, fennel seed, and the anise-scented liquor, but in the roasting process, it imparts just a subtle anise note with an enormous punch of wowing flavor. My tastebuds were dancing at each bite of tender and delicious chicken — slightly charred but moist — the softened fennel, the hints of thyme, and the delightfully bittersweet slices of clementines, peel and all.
I do have one quibble with the recipe: there seems to be a typo in the recommended temperature setting, which says “475 F/ 220 C.” I’m guessing that the higher setting of 475 F is correct, which would correspond to roughly 250 C! I set my European oven to 220 C, and it wasn’t until I checked my chicken at the end of my 40-minute roasting when I realized something was amiss — the chicken didn’t have nearly as nice a blackened char as the cookbook photo shows, and it wasn’t quite cooked-through. So I had to continue to to roast it (and cranked up the heat a little toward the end) for another 20 minutes or so, which reduced the cooking liquid to almost nothing (a shame since it was so delicious!). Luckily, with the exception of some quartered breast pieces I used, the chicken itself (mostly thighs and drumsticks) remained moist and the longer cooking time yielded a better char. Next time I will use only chicken thighs & drumsticks and set the heat at 250 C; I might also make more of this flavorful sauce. It would make a great dish for entertaining, since most of the work is done when the chicken goes in the oven.
I had heard so many wonderful reviews of Jerusalem, and I’m thrilled to have it finally in my collection. My temperature mishap aside, the recipe delivered on my high expectations, and I can’t wait to try more of these seductive dishes!
Jerusalem Roasted Chicken with Clementines & Ouzo
(Adapted from Ottolenghi and Tamimi’s cookbook Jerusalem)
Laura’s Note: The recipe calls for arak, a Middle Eastern spirit imbued with a delicate anise flavor; the authors recommend ouzo or pernod as equivalent substitutes. For those averse to anise flavoring, you might want to try vodka or vermouth.
- 6 tbsp / 100 ml ouzo
- 4 tbsp olive oil
- 3 tbsp freshly squeezed orange juice
- 3 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 2 tbsp grain mustard
- 3 tbsp light brown sugar
- 2 medium fennel bulbs (1 lb / 500 g in total), trimmed and cut into about 8 pieces
- 1 large organic or free- range chicken, about 2 3/4 lb / 1.3 kg, divided into 8 pieces,or the same weight in skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs
- 4 clementines, unpeeled (14 oz / 400 g in total),cut horizontally into 1/4-inch/0.5cm slices
- 1 tbsp thyme leaves
- 2 tsp fennel seeds, lightly crushed
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
- chopped flat-leaf parsley, to garnish
- Prepare the marinade ahead of time: Whisk together the first six ingredients in a large mixing bowl with 2 1/2 teaspoons salt and 1 1/2 teaspoons black pepper. Set aside.
- Add the fennel and chicken pieces, clementine slices, thyme, and fennel seeds to the marinade and stir well. Cover and place it in the fridge for a few hours or overnight to marinate.
- Preheat the oven to 475°F /
220°C250 C. Transfer the chicken, skin side up, and its marinade to a large baking sheet or roasting pan (you’ll want everything spread out in one layer). Roast for 35 to 45 minutes, until the chicken is browned and charred in places and cooked through; remove from the oven.
- Scoop out the chicken, fennel, and clementines from the pan and arrange on a serving plate; cover and keep warm. Pour the cooking liquid into a small saucepan, simmer and reduce to about 1/3cup / 80 ml. Pour the sauce over the chicken, garnish with some parsley, and serve.