Monday, November 23, 2015

Baba Julka's Chicken & Potatoes

I'm very late to the braising game. The first time I ate a braised dish, I didn't even know how it was prepared. All I knew was that the chicken was fall-off-the-bone tender and the potatoes were unlike any potatoes I'd ever had, infused with incredible flavour. 
That was a meal of many firsts: my first braised dish, my first time meeting my future grandmother-in-law, and for Baba Julka, it was her first encounter with someone who doesn't eat chicken skin (I did try to that time!). My husband doesn't remember much about that lunch but he does remember Baba's reaction to that! Everyone remembers it, or variations of the story that came later that I'll never live down ;)!!!
Years later, cooking from Yotam Ottolenghi's book Jerusalem, I rediscovered the flavours and textures of that meal in his Chicken Sofrito. The Sephardic dish, seasoned with paprika, onion, garlic, a little earthy turmeric and some lemon, uses an interesting braising-steaming method of cooking that produces melt-in-your-mouth tender meat without much liquid. The recipe calls for frying the potatoes and garlic before adding them to the chicken. I did that the first time but have since switched to browning them off in the oven at a high temperature with just a small amount of oil.
As a side, I made Charred Okra with Tomato, Garlic and Preserved Lemon from the same book. The quick cooking method adds a wonderful smoky flavour to the vegetable and avoids the sliminess of some preparations. I didn't have preserved lemon this time but the tomatoes and lemon juice alone were enough to add zing to the dish.
Though simple, the chicken and potatoes are very rich and need something bright and breezy to go with them. I usually serve a green salad but the okra-tomato side made a nice change. It provided fresh flavours and a crunchy texture to complement the main.

Since Yotam Ottolenghi is a former I Heart Cooking Clubs featured chef, and this week's theme is potluck where we're allowed to cook with them, I'm linking this post to IHCC. Visit here to see what everyone else has made.

10 comments:

  1. Beautiful color on the chicken. I could dive right in :)

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  2. What a great technique in making chicken sofrito, tender to the bone with chicken remaining whole and intact. Nice touch with okra and tomatoes. Lovely lovely combination.

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  3. I love that chicken dish - so delicious! But I agree with Baba Julka - you don't eat chicken skin?!?!

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  4. What a delicious meal! I have bookmarked the Chicken Sofrito for ages! We love chicken skin but we try not to eat them too often, depending on the dish, I would sometimes discard the skin before cooking. :)

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  5. I've always loved braised chicken and that chicken skin looks good!!! I also love your okra as well. This looks so yummy!! I'm bookmarking this :)

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  6. This chicken dish looks really good. I have that cookbook so I am going to give it a try.

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  7. Such a colorful plate with the golden-hued chicken and potatoes with the bright okra and tomatoes too. What a happy and comforting dinner--you have to love those perfect Ottolenghi recipes. I need to try his okra cooking method--I love the sound of smoky flavors and less slime. ;-)

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  8. I love the story of meeting your grandmother-in-law and I love this chicken recipe. Ottolenghi's chicken sofrito is a popular recipe in my house. You are so right when you say it is simple, but rich. We always find ultimately satisfying. It looks so pretty with the okra, which makes a very pretty side.

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  9. NOW I am craving this chicken sofrito.

    Hope the meeting went swimmingly!!

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