Sumac-marinated baby chickens stuffed with bulgar & lamb
A variation on a Palestinian dish that was served on special occasions at Sami's home. They normally used a regular chicken and the stuffing was made with rice, not bulgar. Still, the idea is the same: a sweet, spiced minced lamb stuffing flavoured by the bird's juices as it cooks. It's incredibly delicious and, when the birds are brought to the table on one platter, dramatic. This goes well with sprouts, root vegetables and slaw. Serves four.View Recipe
4 baby chickens
1 bunch mixed hard herbs (bay leaves, rosemary, sage, thyme), to line the serving dish
Greek yogurt, to serve
For the marinade
70ml vegetable oil
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1½ tsp ground cinnamon
1½ tsp paprika
2½ tsp sumac
1 tsp ground allspice
½ tbsp salt
For the stuffing:
260g lamb mince
90g bulgur wheat
220ml water or chicken stock
1 tsp ground allspice
1½ tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp salt
½ tsp black pepper
40g pine nuts
40g peeled pistachios
40g sliced almonds
Whisk the marinade ingredients until smooth, pour over the birds and massage in, inside and out. Cover and refrigerate for from one to 24 hours.
To prepare the stuffing, melt a tablespoon of butter in a medium pan. When very hot, add the mince and brown over high heat, stirring from time to time, for five minutes, until most of the liquid has evaporated. Add the bulgar, water or stock, spices, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer for five minutes. The bulgar should absorb all the liquid.
Meanwhile, fry the pine nuts in a pan with half the remaining butter for a minute, add the pistachios and cook for three to four minutes, until the nuts turn golden - take care not to burn them. Add to the bulgar, stir, taste and adjust the seasoning. If you are going to roast the chickens straight away, you can use the stuffing while it is still warm. Otherwise let it cool before filling the birds. Keep refrigerated until you're ready to cook.
Preheat the oven to 220C/425F/gas mark 7. Put the stuffed chickens in a large roasting dish, pour about 250ml of water around them and cover with foil. Roast for 35 minutes, then lower the temperature to 190C/375F/gas mark 5, remove the foil and roast for another 20 minutes or so, until golden and cooked through. Check by piercing the thickest part of the leg with a skewer - the juices should run clear. Transfer to a platter lined with hard herbs and leave to rest for 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat the remaining butter in a pan, add the almonds and season. Sauté for three to four minutes, until golden, then tip over the birds. Serve with Greek yogurt on the side.
Barbecue beef short ribs with black garlic and urfa chilli
These wonderfully smoky and aromatic short ribs are actually cooked a day in advance (mind, it takes four hours or more), marinated for 24 hours and then barbecued and warmed up briefly just before serving. You can take the meat off the bone, as in the instruction, for easy grilling and eating, or leave on for the wholesome look. Serve with crispy lettuce salad and roasted potatoes. Serves fourView Recipe
4 large beef short ribs (2.2kg)
1 onion, quartered
1lt beef stock
50g peeled black garlic
20g harissa paste
15g pomegranate molasses
1 tbsp urfa chilli flakes, or another mild dried chilli flake
50g tinned tomatoes
15ml red wine vinegar
1 tbsp maple syrup
½ small onion, chopped (30g net)
Preheat the oven to 140C.
Place the beef ribs in a lidded casserole pan, add the onion, ¾ teaspoon of salt and pour over the stock; they need to be immersed in liquid so add more stock or some water if you need to. Place on a medium-high heat, bring to a light simmer and then cover the pan and transfer to the oven. Cook for 4 to 4½ hours, depending on size, until the meat is completely tender. Once done remove the ribs from the stock (you can use the stock for soups or sauces). Remove and discard the bones and excess fat leaving the meat in large chunks.
While the beef is cooking make the marinade. Place all of the ingredients in the small bowl of a food processor. Add 1 teaspoon of salt and blitz to form a very smooth paste. Transfer to a large non-reactive bowl, add the beef meat and mix well so that the meat is well coated. Cover and leave in the fridge overnight to marinate.
The next day, preheat the oven to 200C. Place a ridged griddle pan on a high heat and, when it is starting to smoke, add the beef pieces (you can obviously also do this on a barbecue outdoors). Grill for 2 minutes, turning so that all sides get some colour and smoke. Transfer to a baking tray and place in the oven for about 12 minutes, until the meat is warmed through. Leave to rest for a few minutes before serving.
Roast butternut squash and red onion with tahini and za'atar
If you want a vegetarian dish to make an impact on the table, this does the job – it looks great and has really complex flavours. Serves four.View Recipe
1 large butternut squash (around 1.1kg), cut into 2cm x 6cm wedges
2 red onions, cut into 3cm wedges
50ml olive oil
Maldon sea salt and black pepper
3½ tbsp tahini paste
1½ tbsp lemon juice
3 tbsp water
1 small garlic clove, crushed
30g pine nuts
1 tbsp za'atar
1 tbsp roughly chopped parsley
Heat the oven to to 220C/425F/gas mark 7. Put the squash and onions in a large bowl, add three tablespoons of oil, a teaspoon of salt and some black pepper, and toss well. Spread, skin down, on a baking sheet and roast for 40 minutes until the vegetables have taken on some colour and are cooked through. Keep an eye on the onions: they may cook faster than the squash, so may need to be removed earlier. Remove from the oven and leave to cool.
Put the tahini in a small bowl with the lemon juice, water, garlic and a quarter-teaspoon of salt. Whisk to the consistency of honey, adding more water or tahini as necessary.
Pour the remaining oil into a small frying pan on a medium-low heat. Add the pine nuts and half a teaspoon of salt, cook for two minutes, stirring, until the nuts are golden brown, then tip the nuts and oil into a small bowl.
To serve, spread the vegetables on a platter and drizzle over the sauce. Scatter the pine nuts and oil on top, followed by the za'atar and parsley.