Lola and Finn's Mum

Lola and Finn's Mum

Friday, 5 February 2016

Bloody Great! Chicken with Marsala, Olives and Blood Oranges

So, here I am continuing to bore you with my new found virtuosity. I have no idea whether this recipe is truly healthy, whatever that means, but my word… it made me feel good. In fact, the fact that I was able to muster this up on a school night is testament not only to my new found energy (well…actually, I don’t know whether I would take it that far. I merely decided to swerve the marking of year 9 books in order to eat because I was that hungry I could have eaten my own arms) but also the ease in which this amazing tasting dish can be created. Yes, even on a school night.
This divine tasting dish is from Diana Henry’s ‘A Bird in the Hand’. It is likely, due to amount of chicken that is being eaten in the household lately, that I will be cooking my way through this frankly fabulous tome of chicken recipes. I haven’t read one yet that I know I wouldn’t like. This recipe uses that seemingly rare beast, the blood orange, which is a particular favourite of mine, their sanguine juice and flesh slightly acidic tang adding colour and flavour to anything and everything. I got mine from the local farm shop, Windy Arbour, in Billinge.
I used chicken breasts on the bone for this one, instead of jointed chicken pieces. Personally I’d have been happy with any part of the chicken but I seem to be surrounded by people who don’t want to deal with too much in the way of bones, so chicken breasts it is. What I will say though is the way of cooking this kept the chicken incredibly moist and seemed to infuse flavour into what I think is sometimes the blandest cut of the bird. Anyway, happy bubs, happy Phill, happy me.
I served this cooked with spelt which had initially been sautéed with onions, and then braised in chicken stock, finished with a sprinkling of parsley. All together it was seriously delish and it’s one that I will be cooking again, as soon as the blood oranges make their welcome appearance.

Chicken with Marsala, Olives and Blood Oranges from ‘A Bird in the Hand’ by Diana Henry

Serves Lola, Finn, Mum and Dad, twice (4 – 6 people)

1 tbsp olive oil
1 medium British free-range chicken, jointed into 8 (I used chicken supremes)
2 small red onions, halved and cut into crescent moon-shaped slices
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
100ml dry Marsala
Juice 1 blood orange, plus 2 blood oranges
8 fresh thyme sprigs (I used 1 ½ tsp of dried thyme)
1-2 large handfuls good quality green olives
A little caster sugar

Heat the oven to 190°C/fan170°C/gas 5.

On the hob, heat the olive oil in a broad, shallow casserole or ovenproof pan in which the chicken joints can lie in a single layer (I used my oval cast iron casserole) Season the chicken with salt and pepper, then brown on both sides, skin-side first, over a medium-high heat. Be careful not to turn the chicken pieces over before they come away easily from the base of the pan, otherwise you will tear the skin. Transfer to a plate.

Drain off all but a couple of tablespoons of the oil, then add the onions to the pan. Cook over a low-medium heat for around 5 minutes or until the onions begin to soften. Add the garlic and cook for another 2 minutes.

Add the marsala to the pan and scrape up all any flavourful sticky bits on the bottom. Add the blood orange juice. Return the chicken – and any meat juices – to the pan, skin-side up. Season, then add the dried thyme. Bring to the boil, then take the pan off the heat and put it in the oven for 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, cut a slice off the bottom and top of each whole blood orange so they have a flat base on which to sit. Using a very sharp knife, cut the peel and pith from each orange, working around the fruit and cutting in broad slices from top to bottom. Slice the oranges into rounds and pick out any pips.

Take the chicken out of the oven, then add the olives and lay over the sliced blood oranges (the oranges should stay on top, out of the liquid). Sprinkle the orange slices with a little sugar, then return the pan to the oven and cook for another 20 minutes. The juices should have reduced, the orange slices should be golden, even caramelised in patches, and the chicken should be cooked through.
Spoon over some of the juices, then serve immediately. I served this with pearled spelt, cooked with onions in chicken stock.

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