The first ‘random ingredient generator‘ of 2011 provided some fantastic suggestions. As ever some people predictably put spanners in the works; perhaps I should be more explicit that the generator’s raison d’etre is to offer inspiration when it’s 6pm and I can’t think of what to have for supper. Not really the time to go out in search of tripe and yucca. Still, I appreciate Ollie and Lizzie’s enthusiasm and admire their ability to keep me on my toes.
In the end I cobbled together suggestions of pomegranate, preserved lemons, squash, and smoked paprika, to create this dish. Relatively straightforward, not a great deal of prep, and a dish so fragrant that you are transported immediately to a Moroccan market. Probably. I’ve never been to one. So souk me.
A small chicken, about 1.5kg
2 tbsp ras-el-hanout
1 tsp spicy smoked paprika
1 tbsp honey
2 tbsps olive oil
A small butternut squash, deseeded and cut into wedges
2 large onions, peeled and finely sliced
Chicken stock, about a litre
4 preserves lemons, quartered
A handful of green olives, roughly chopped
Salt, pepper, olive oil
- Muddle together the ras-el-hanout, smoked paprika, honey and olive oil in a bowl and spread it over the chook. Leave for as long as you can. Toss the butternut squash wedges in olive oil, salt, and pepper, and leave in a roasting tray.
- Preheat the oven to 190C. Heat a little oil in a large saucepan – one big enough to house the bird – and fry the onions over a medium heat, stirring regularly, until softened and slightly caramelised. Season generously with salt and pepper and add the stock. Bring to a boil before adding the chicken, breast side down. Cover and slide into the oven along with the squash. After half an hour turn the chicken over and roast for another half an hour. Remove the lid and roast for a final 15 minutes.
- Now take the chicken from the pan and leave to rest. Put the pan over a medium heat and add the preserved lemons and olives. Gently simmer for 10 minutes or so before carving the chicken and serving it with roasted squash, couscous, the cooking juices, pomegranate and coriander.