Roast chicken with dates, olives and capers
The Silver Palate, by Julee Rosso and Sheila Lukins, is one of the best cookbooks I know and a classic of the 1980s, listing recipes from the first modern quality take-out food shop in New York. Many of the dishes in the book have become legendary. One of them, Chicken Marbella, is the inspiration for this recipe. The chicken needs marinading for at least a day, preferably two, to soften and flavour properly; I wouldn’t cut corners here. Serves four, generouslyView Recipe
8 chicken legs, drumstick and thigh attached, skin on (2kg net)
5 garlic cloves, crushed
15g fresh oregano, torn, plus extra for garnish
3 tbsp red wine vinegar
3 tbsp olive oil
100g pitted green olives
60g capers, plus 2 tbsp of their juices
70g , pitted and quartered lengthways Medjoul dates
2 bay leaves
120ml dry white wine
1 tbsp date syrup or treacle
Salt and black pepper
Place the chicken in a large, non-reactive bowl and add all of the ingredients, apart from the wine and date molasses, along with ¾ teaspoon of salt and a good grind of black pepper. Gently mix everything together, cover the bowl and leave in the fridge to marinate for 1 to 2 days, stirring the ingredients a few times during the process.
Preheat the oven to 180C.
Spread out the chicken legs on a large baking tray, along with all the marinade ingredients. Whisk together the wine and molasses and pour over the meat. Place in the oven and cook for 50 minutes, basting 2 or 3 times, until the meat is golden brown on top and cooked through.
Remove from the oven, transfer everything to a large platter, sprinkle over some freshly picked oregano leaves and serve.
Polenta crisps with avocado and yoghurt
Serves six to eight, as a snack.View Recipe
750ml chicken stock
160g quick-cook polenta
10g chopped chives
30g Parmesan, grated
100g coarse semolina
About 300ml sunflower oil, for frying
Salt and white pepper
For the avocado dipping sauce:
2 small avocados, flesh scooped out
100g Greek yoghurt
1½ tbsp lime juice
1 tsp grated lime zest
¾ tsp hazelnut oil or olive oil
Put all the dipping sauce ingredients in a small bowl of a food processor, along with a quarter-teaspoon of salt and some freshly ground pepper. Blitz to a smooth paste and set aside.
Bring the stock to a boil, add the polenta and cook for about five minutes, stirring constantly, until all the liquid has been absorbed and the mixture is thick. Add the chives and parmesan, stir for 30 seconds, then tip out the mixture on to two large chopping boards or trays measuring about 25cm x 40cm. Use a palette knife to spread out the polenta very thinly, but don't worry if the surface is slightly uneven: ideally, it should be between 1mm and 3mm thick. Leave to set for about 20 minutes, then use a palette knife or spatula to cut and lift the polenta from the board in odd-sized, roughly 5cm x 7cm pieces. Dip each piece in the semolina, turning so they're covered on both sides, and set aside. If the polenta pieces prove especially fragile and break up while you're manoeuvring them, sprinkle with semolina while they're still on the board, turn gently, then sprinkle again on the other side.
Pour enough oil into a large sauté pan so that it comes 1cm up the sides. Place on medium-high heat and fry the prepared crisps in batches for about five minutes, turning once, until golden-brown on both sides; the edges will crisp up and brown while the centre remains a touch soft and golden in places. Transfer to a plate lined with kitchen paper to drain, sprinkle with a little salt and repeat with the remaining polenta crisps. Serve hot with the dipping sauce on the side.