Moar chickin of the preserved lemon variety

It seems like I’m on a roll. A chicken roll. Actually, speaking of which, I could go a chicken roll right now.

Luckily though, this post is not about chicken rolls, notwithstanding their deliciousness. It is about another equally delicious, scrumptious, fulfilling and generally delectable chicken recipes that I stumbled across a little while ago. It involves preserved lemons – not a quick thing to make, but definitely an easy thing to make (don’t be that loser that pays $11 a jar in a gourmet deli!)

Today’s recipe is chicken with preserved lemons! It takes a little while – like a Sunday afternoon project – but do it, it’s worth it 🙂

You will need:
A marinade in which to let your chicken hang out for a while:
– 1 clove of garlic, chopped
– 1/4 of a preserved lemon (see note!), finely sliced and only the rind – ditch the flesh
– 1 onion, chopped
– 2 tsps smokey paprika
– 2 tsps cumin
– 1 tbsp of chopped fresh coriander (you can use the stalks)
– 1 tbsp chopped parsley
– 2 bay leaves
– 1/2 tsp saffron threads that have been soaked in a tiny bit of water (not absolutely necessary, but does impart a nice colour and flavour)
– 50ml olive oil
– salt and pepper to taste

The rest of the meal!
– 500 grams of chicken (I used thigh)
– 1 tomato, sliced
– 1 more onion, chopped)
– a couple of potatoes, chopped in fairly large pieces
– 100g of olives
– a good handful of chopped coriander
– about 100mL of water (maybe more – depending on how dry it’s all looking when it’s all cooking)

A note on preserved lemons:
Preserved lemons are super easy to make, although they take a fair few weeks to make. Get yourself a clean glass jar and enough lemons to fill it. This is harder to estimate than it sounds, so as a guide I went with one of those larger pasta sauce jars that I had lying around and about 4 lemons (maybe it was 5…). You’ll also need a fair few tablespoons of salt. Cut your lemons in quarters and then the idea is to place a lemon quarter in the jar and then squash the hell out of it. I use a rolling pin to really get in there and squash it down. Put a teaspoon of salt in. Then another lemon quarter, squash again. Another teaspoon of salt. Repeat until you’ve filled the jar with some seriously squashed lemons and however many teaspoons of salt the number of lemon quarters equate to. It should end up that the lemon juice covers the lemon quarters; if not, get some extra lemons and squeeze just the juice out until everything is covered. Seal her up and whack at the back of the fridge for the next month. Don’t freak out if it develops a little white mould…it’s all good, just scrape off when you use the lemons.

Now to the recipe:
Step 1 – rate and marinate: chop and mix all of the marinade ingredients. Let the ingredients get to know each other for 20 minutes or so. Phew, that was easy. Now get your chicken ready. Massage it all in and let the chicken sit there for a good coupla hours

Marinate me.

Marinate me.

Step 2 – finger licking good: Tip the chicken and the marinade into a pan on low (…or a tagine if you’re organised). Add the tomatoes, onion and potatoes and mix in with the marinade. Dot the olives around and tip in the water, along with half of the handful of coriander. Cook over a super low heat until the chicken is cooked. Check the water and add more if needed. Estimate that it takes around 1/2 an hour or a little longer. Top with the remaining coriander and serve with whatever you like – quinoa, cous cous, rice, vegies…nothing…anything…

Rahhh I'm going to eat you like a lion

Rahhh I’m going to eat you like a lion

El Jannah, Granville (aka moar chickin!)

The scent wafted delicately… wait, no no, definitely scrap that. The smoke fell heavily? Engulfed? Was the very definition of ubiquitous? Either way, we got off the train at Granville one Sunday afternoon a couple of weeks back and it smelled pretty bloody charcoaly.

It was one mission and one mission only that we had in mind that day, and that was chicken. Charcoal chicken. Nabbing one of the last free tables at the very busy restaurant we dove straight in, ordering a quarter chicken (approx $9 eat in) and also a serve of three felafel ($4.50).

Served with the again ubiquitous lebanese flat bread, as well as vibrant, almost glowing pink pickles and gherkins…and, of course, that famous garlic sauce (toum, I think it’s called)…it was a dish of high expectation.

The chicken, I have to say, was just a little too charcoaly. Parts of it were a little dry and my carcinogen-fearing mother would have chucked a fit. I don’t know where they’re buying these miniature chickens from, either. The garlic sauce was pretty bloody fantastic. It was kind of an aioli on overdrive – not a place to go on a first date, that’s for sure. But garlicky, rich and creamy, it was all I needed.

Eat moar chickin

Eat moar chickin

The felafel was the surprise hit of the day for me. Three crunchy and – finally – not overly dry and salty – felafel came in somewhat of a theatric form. I had expected, well, three felafel on a plate. Instead, there was lettuce, tomato, a great but liquidy hommus and an onion/parsley salad. Oh, and more pickles.

Fantastic felafel

Fantastic felafel

Of course, lunch ain’t lunch without a spot of dessert. Ok, that’s definitely a lie but with the famous Abla’s Pastries around the corner, why not? Some of the best baklava I’ve ever had, and trust me, I’ve had a fair bit in my time. The plate in the picture cost about $8.50

Brilliant baklava

Brilliant baklava

Overall, a good day and a restaurant worth checking out. It’s been around for more than a couple of years and it’s absolutely packed – how could that many people be wrong?

El Jannah
4-6 South Street
Granville NSW 2142

Abla’s Pastries
48-52 Railway Parade
Granville NSW 2142