Do you, like me, easily get bored with same old, same old? In my life I constantly crave variety. Just the other day at the hair salon, where my hair went from brunette to nearly blond in a matter of a couple of hours, my stylist asked me, “Why on earth would you move from Canada (aka heaven on earth) to London?” I struggled to give a neat answer, especially on the day when our air pollution reached 9, with 10 being the highest! He went on to give me every negative reason for living here- insanely high cost of living, e.g housing, transport, petrol, the breakneck speed at which our life happens, a lack of safety for our children a small Canadian town would otherwise provide, etc. etc. Then he paused, a mischievous smile on his face, as if from a memory that brought him back to the city he grew up in, and added, “But I love it here”.
Why change? Because there are memories to be made and experiences to be had in this massive city, through which we push and continue growing. Life is meant to be lived to the fullest. That’s why we moved.
I suppose this attitude makes me a bit of a loose canon in the kitchen. Whenever we have people come over for dinner, Brad circles me as I am trying to figure out some new recipe while saying, “Why do you have to try something new now, why can’t you make something normal?” Because life is too short to eat the same things over and over again, especially in our day and age when the world is on our doorsteps. Why not try something thoroughly different from what we are used to!
This Roast Chicken with Jerusalem artichokes and lemons recipe comes from the cookbook I coveted for a while before I received it as a present last Christmas. Jerusalem by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi, who recently went from being known in London where they own a small chain of successful delis to worldwide fame, mostly due to the cookbooks Yotam Ottolenghi published. The first recipe for Fattoush Salad I made from Jerusalem cookbook was a complete success which gave me much confidence to tackle a main dish, so as soon as I spotted Jerusalem artichokes in my local Sainsbury’s I knew just what to do with them.
Have you ever seen or cooked with Jerusalem artichokes? It was my first time. They are not much to look at, small and gnarly things, with mildly sweet and delicate taste. In short, nothing like I ever tasted before.
Then there is an explosion of herbs and spices that make this dish incredibly fragrant. That’s the word I associate Middle Eastern cooking with! Fresh tarragon, thyme, loads of shallots and garlic, mixed peppercorns, lemons and vibrant saffron threads make for a visually gorgeous dish.
This chicken takes a bit of prep. For all the flavours to come through it needs a few hours to marinade properly. Good news is you can do it all the night before and let it wait in the fridge until you are ready to put it in the oven .
An hour before you are ready to eat just pop it in the oven.
And 45 minutes later you are left with something that will intrigue your taste buds with it’s bold taste and beautiful flavour. Saffron and lemon slices mix so well with Jerusalem artichokes while caramelized shallots and natural juices from the chicken mixed with marinade create a wonderful sauce for the mashed potatoes I served this chicken with!
- 350 g Jerusalem artichokes peeled and cut into quarters lengthways
- 3 tbsp tbslemon juice
- 8 chicken thighs or a mix of legs and thighs
- 12 shallots quartered lengthways
- 12 garlic cloves sliced
- 1 lemon cut in half, lengthways and then thinly sliced
- 1 tsp saffron threads
- 50 ml olive oil
- 150 ml cold water
- 1 tbsp. pink or mixed peppercorns slightly crushed
- 10 g fresh thyme chopped
- 20 g fresh tarragon chopped
- 2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- Cook Jerusalem artichokes in a medium pot half-filled with water and half of the lemon juice for 10 minutes after the water boils. They should be tender but not too soft. Drain and cool.
- In a large bowl combine cooked Jerusalem artichokes, chicken pieces, shallots, garlic, tarragon, thyme, lemon slices, saffron, salt, peppercorns, pepper, oil and water.
- Mix everything with your hands (wear gloves if you don't like touching meat) until all ingredients are evenly coated with the marinade.
- Cover and let marinade overnight or at least for 2-3 hours.
- Preheat the oven to 220C/420F and roast the chicken for 30 minutes. Then cover with a lid or tin foil and cook for 15 minutes longer. (If your chicken is cooked but the skin remains a little too pale, turn your broiler on and broil for 1-2 minutes for a beautiful finish.)
- Remove from the oven and sprinkle with remaining lemon juice.
The authors recommend serving this chicken with Mejadra – a flavourful rice, lentil and fried onion dish, which I am still planning to make. For now I served it with mashed potatoes. Baby steps, right! 🙂
Note: If Jerusalem artichokes are difficult to find or you don’t like the taste of them, this Roast Chicken is absolutely gorgeous on its own. Do try this recipe! For me, it was instant love and I can’t wait to make it again. In fact, this would be a beautiful alternative to your Ham or Lamb Easter Dinner. How fitting it is to eat something that actually comes from Jerusalem on Easter Sunday!