Moroccan Baked Chicken with Chickpeas and Rice
Chicken pieces simmered with chickpeas, peppers and olives in a saffron-flavoured rice with coriander and lemons – hope you like it. My Chicken Basque recipe is such a huge hit because, I imagine, everything needed for a meal for four people is cooked in one large cooking pot with no extra vegetables needed. This meant I was under a lot of pressure to produce a recipe that could match it. So, to a flourish of trumpets, here it is.
This recipe is taken from Delia Smith’s Winter Collection and The Delia Collection: Chicken
| 1 x 3½-4 lb (1.5-2 kg) chicken, jointed into 8 pieces (or you could use a pack of 8 drumsticks and thighs)|
| 4 oz (110 g) dried chickpeas|
| 6 oz (175 g) brown basmati rice|
| 1 level teaspoon cumin seeds|
| 1 level tablespoon coriander seeds|
| ½ level teaspoon saffron stamens|
| 2 small thin-skinned lemons|
| 2 large yellow peppers|
| 2 large onions|
| 2 tablespoons olive oil|
| 1 oz (15 g) fresh coriander|
| 3 cloves garlic, chopped|
| 2 fresh chillies, halved, de-seeded and finely chopped|
| 10 fl oz (275 ml) carton good chicken stock|
| 5 fl oz (150 ml) dry white wine|
| 2 oz (50 g) pitted black olives|
| 2 oz (50 g) pitted green olives|
| salt and freshly milled black pepper|
| Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 4, 350°F (180°C).|
|You will also need a wide, shallow flameproof casserole with a domed lid, about 9 inches (23 cm) across the base. Failing that, use any flameproof casserole of 5 pint (3 litre) capacity.|
There are two ways to deal with chickpeas. The easiest is to pop them into a bowl, cover them with cold water and leave them overnight or for a minimum of 8 hours. But, if it slips your mind, what you can do is place them in a saucepan, cover them with cold water and bring them up to the boil for 10 minutes. Then turn off the heat and let them soak for 3 hours. Either way, when you want to start making this recipe, the chickpeas need to be simmered for 20 minutes or until tender.
While they're simmering, place a small frying pan over direct medium heat, add the cumin and coriander seeds and toss them around in a hot pan for about 2-3 minutes or until they start to dance and change colour. Then remove the seeds to a pestle and mortar and crush them coarsely and transfer them to a plate. Next, crush the saffron stamens to a powder with the pestle and mortar, then squeeze out the juice of one of the lemons and add it to the saffron, stirring well.
Then prepare the chicken by seasoning the joints with salt and pepper. Slice the peppers in half, remove the seeds and pith and cut each half into 4 large pieces. The onions should be sliced roughly the same size as the peppers. Now heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in the flameproof casserole and, when it's really hot, brown the chicken pieces on all sides – don't overcrowd the pan; it's best to do it in 2 batches, 4 pieces at a time.
After that, remove the chicken pieces to a plate, then add the second tablespoon of oil and turn the heat to its highest setting. When the oil is really hot, add the peppers and onions and cook them in the hot oil, moving them around until their edges are slightly blackened – this should take about 5 minutes – then turn the heat down. Strip the coriander leaves from the stalks, wrap them in a piece of clingfilm and keep them in the fridge. Then chop the coriander stalks finely and add these to the peppers and onions, along with the garlic, chillies, crushed spices, the chickpeas and rice, then give everything a good stir to distribute all the ingredients.
Season well with salt and pepper, then combine the lemon and saffron mixture with the stock and wine, pour it all in to the casserole and stir well. Cut the remaining lemon into thin slices and push these well into the liquid. Now scatter the olives in and, finally, place the pieces of chicken on top of everything. Cover with a tight-fitting lid and place in the pre-heated oven for 1 hour or until the rice and chickpeas are tender. Then, just before serving, scatter the coriander leaves on top and serve straight away on warmed serving plates.