Whenever I rave about Ottolenghi, someone always says, without fail, ‘oh I can’t be bothered; he uses too many ingredients’. In the last week alone the mention of his name to a) a real foodie and b) someone not that bothered about what they eat has elicited exactly that response. Even the man himself is aware of the detractors as his comment in the intro to this recipe makes clear. I completely get that not everyone is happy to trust their own instincts with a recipe; I myself am definitely in the ‘slavish follower of recipe’ camp, at least I am the first time I make something. But, particularly with Ottolenghi, my response to the complaint about his attachment to a long shopping list is always ‘well leave some out then’.
This recipe, for example, is one of the simplest I have come across and yet has a very complex flavour. And that’s without two of the very short list of ingredients which, after a couple of goes, I realised were pretty extraneous. I have no affection for oregano, it is not easy to find, and, having left it out on the second time I made this, I can’t imagine why I bothered hunting it out the first time. And the peppercorns may add flavour but I disliked their crunchiness in it. Which leaves you with nine ingredients, two of which are potatoes and onions. So not that long a list…and it really is throw-together food; all it needs is something green or vegetable-like to go with it. I have adjusted the amounts slightly because, even cutting it in four, the portions are too big for the likes of me (two chicken legs and four potatoes per person, really?). Although I can recommend making extra then serving it cold chopped through cinnamon and almond couscous for lunch…
Ottolenghi’s chicken with potatoes, prunes and pomegranate molasses (adapted from here)
Enough for two (or one person greedier than me)
Cupboard (or things you may already have)
freshly ground black pepper
Charlotte potatoes, 4 (or equally waxy firm ones; this is a rather wonderful explanation of the types, differences and uses)
fresh ginger, about 1cm-length or thereabouts
chicken legs, 2
pitted prunes, 30g
soy sauce, 25ml
pomegranate molasses, 1 tbsp
maple syrup, 1 tsp
mango chutney, 30g
I love a recipe like this: heat oven, shove everything into a tray, cook. Or, more elegantly put…
1. Preheat the oven to 200°C/180°C fan-assisted/gas 6.
2. Peel, top and tail then quarter the onion.
3. Peel the potatoes but leave them whole.
4. Peel the ginger and grate it or slice it thinly (the latter is probably easiest with such a small amount).
5. Put the onion, potatoes and chicken legs into a lidded, ovenproof casserole dish.
6. In a bowl mix together the ginger, prunes, soy sauce, pomegranate molasses, maple syrup and mango chutney. Tip this mixture over the chicken, potatoes and onion and stir to coat the different pieces in the sauce. Season with a little black pepper.
7. Put the lid on the casserole and put it in the oven for 10 minutes.
8. Lower the temperature to 180°C/160°C fan-assisted/gas 4, stir the contents of the casserole and leave for another 45-55 minutes until the chicken is cooked through, stirring every 10-15 minutes or so.
9. Leave the chicken to rest for about 10 minutes then serve with something green. Easy-peasy.