This week I cooked this (not my photo):
It was fabulous and I will be making it many times this clementine season, and hopefully next week for family dinner night, when both of G's children are here with their families. The recipe is from the new book by Yotam Ottolenghi that I wrote about last week, Jerusalem, but this particular recipe is available all over the web, at epicurious, and in a Wall Street Journal article from this past September.
Probably the only tricky ingredient in this recipe is the Arak, but as the recipe states you can substitute Ouzo or Pernod. If it were me, I think I would chose Pastis before Pernod, as I personally find Pernod too sweet and the dish is already sweet enough, but that is just me, and I find that both Ouzo and Pastis have a drier herbal anise flavor and are less sweet than some of the other anise liquors. Since I do have Arak, and I have to thank my lovely step-daughter and her husband for bringing some to me last summer after their visit to NY, it is not an issue in my house. There are quite a few things I cook with Arak, so it has become a kitchen staple, but It is one of those things that I erroneously believed were available everywhere, as it was widely available in the Hudson Valley, only to find there is no Arak in Knoxville. There are a lot of things I thought were widely available, and now I realize how truly spoiled I was, culinarily at least. That, however, is another story.
Anyway, I didn't make this exactly as written, although my modifications are quite small. The original recipe called for 3 tablespoons of brown sugar, but when I went to the sugar jar I only had two tablespoons left and I use a fair-trade dark brown sugar that I find has a wonderfully rich sweet flavor that is more pronounced than standard supermarket brown sugar. (yes it is true, I buy everything based on how I think it tastes; no detail is too minor to ignore.) I could have used some other kind of sugar, but felt that the dish would probably be sweet enough for my taste, given all the citrus flavors, and I left it out. The original recipe also calls for 3 tablespoons each of orange juice and lemon juice, and I omitted the orange juice. I am sure the original is wonderful, perhaps even more wonderful than my version, but the final dish had a rich luscious citrus flavor and was plenty sweet for our tastes. You will have to make your own judgements.
Roasted Chicken with Clementines and Arak
modified from Jerusalem by Yotam Ottolenghi
6 tablespoons Arak
4 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tablespoons grainy mustard
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt *
1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
2 medium fennel bulbs, cut in half lengthwise, then each half cut in quarters
2 pounds bone-in chicken thighs. **
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves, minced
4 clementines, unpeeled, thinly sliced
2 1/2 teaspoons fennel seeds, lightly crushed
minced parsley for garnish
Put the first five ingredients in a large mixing bowl and add 2 1/2 teaspoons salt and 1 1/2 teaspoons of black pepepr. Whisk well and set aside.
Add the fennel, chicken pieces, clementine slices, thyme and fennel seeds to the liquid and stir well with your hands. Place chicken in the refrigerator to marinate for at least a few hours and up to overnight. The authors say it is fine to skip the marinade step if you are short on time.
Preheat the oven to 475° F. Transfer the chicken and its marinade to a roasting pan or baking sheet large enough to accommodate everything comfortably in a single layer. The chicken skin should be facing up. Once the oven is heated, put the pan in the oven and roast for 35 to 45 minutes, until the chicken is colored and cooked through.
Lift the chicken, fennel, and clementines from the pan and arrange on a serving platter; cover and keep warm. Pour the cooking liquid into a small saucepan and place it over medium-high heat. Bring the liquid to a boil and simmer until the sauce is reduced by one-third, so you are left with about 1/3 cup. Pour the hot sauce over the chicken, garnish with the parsley, and serve.
* I use Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt, which is produced by a different method than most salts with the result that it has half the weight per volume as does table salt or Morton Kosher salt. Therefore a teaspoon of Diamond Crystal salt will taste less salty than Morton Kosher salt because there is less salt per teaspoon. If you use a different brand you will have to adjust the quanitity of salt to your taste. Diamond Crystal salt does not seem to be available in Knoxville. I tried many other salts before deciding it wasn't worth trying to relearn 30 years of cooking habits. I did learn that Maldon Sea Salt is a good substitute, as it is slightly lighter per volume than Diamond, but as it costs roughly six times as much, I finally ordered the Diamond kosher salt and am a much happier cook. I do have a box of Morton Kosher salt which is used only for cleaning my cast-iron skillets.
** The original recipe calls for a 2-3 pound chicken. Chickens are variable things, and I am sure the weight and amount of meat on a chicken can be highly dependent on diet as well as breed, and this varies probably from place to place. In Hyde Park there was a free-range poultry farm in the next town, and they raised several types of chicken. Their small chickens (2-3 pounds) were meaty and good. I have not found a similar locally raised organic or sustainably-raised free range chicken in Knoxville. The small chickens I have purchased seem to be skinnier cousins of the same birds that are good at 4-5 pounds. Hence they are all bone with little meat and do not serve 4 people. The organic chickens sold in the stores are also larger. If I want less than 4 or 5 pounds of chicken, but still want the flavor bones will add to the final dish, I opt for bone-in chicken thighs.