Delia Smith's Winter Collection
APRIL 19 2012

This dish incorporates some of my absolute favorite flavors. Chickpeas, olives, big chunks of lemon all in a rich, saffron-laced broth. I am so ready for this one! Plus, it's a one-pot meal which makes clean-up a snap-and-a-half.

Of course it starts with browning the meat (le, sigh). The chicken skin needs to be nice and crispy before bathing in the fabulous broth so I get to work. I am loving my splatter screen more and more with each Delia's recipe. While the chicken sizzles, I toast and grind the spices and give the pre-soaked chickpeas their final 20 minute simmer.

oh saffron, how I love thee!

seasoned chicken, waiting to be browned

cilantro stems play an integral role in seasoning the dish.... love it!

Next the peppers and onions get a turn in the toasty chicken fat; frying quickly until the edges just blacken. At that point, in go the chickpeas and brown rice, along with all the flavor components - spices, cilantro stems, thin lemon slices, olives and white wine. Nestle my lovely chicken into the top and stick into the oven.

Smells great! One hour from now we will be feasting. Until then, think I'll take a little nap... feeling sleepy...

everything stirred into only delicious slurry

Ding! Now doesn't that look amazing! We forgo side dishes and we just concentrate on the fantastic bowl of Moroccan chicken sitting in front of us. Love it! The bite from the lemon slices balance the soft, creamy chickpeas. And everything is coated in a luscious, rich sauce.

smells so good!

hubby took the Flintstones-sized portion

I go a bit more lady-like

the sauce... oh! the sauce!


Serves 4

Chicken pieces simmered with chickpeas, peppers and olives in a saffron-flavoured rice with coriander and lemons – hope you like it. My Chicken Basque recipe is such a huge hit because, I imagine, everything needed for a meal for four people is cooked in one large cooking pot with no extra vegetables needed. This meant I was under a lot of pressure to produce a recipe that could match it. So, to a flourish of trumpets, here it is.

1 - 3½-4 lb chicken, jointed into 8 pieces (or use a pack of 8 drumsticks and thighs)
4 oz dried chickpeas
6 oz brown basmati rice
1 level teaspoon cumin seeds
1 level tablespoon coriander seeds
½ level teaspoon saffron stamens
2 small thin-skinned lemons
2 large yellow peppers
2 large onions
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 oz fresh coriander
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 fresh chillies, halved, de-seeded and finely chopped
10 fl oz carton good chicken stock
5 fl oz dry white wine
2 oz pitted black olives
2 oz pitted green olives
Salt and freshly milled black pepper


Pre-heat the oven to 350°F.

There are two ways to deal with chickpeas. The easiest is to pop them into a bowl, cover them with cold water and leave them overnight or for a minimum of 8 hours. But, if it slips your mind, what you can do is place them in a saucepan, cover them with cold water and bring them up to the boil for 10 minutes. Then turn off the heat and let them soak for 3 hours. Either way, when you want to start making this recipe, the chickpeas need to be simmered for 20 minutes or until tender.

While they're simmering, place a small frying pan over direct medium heat, add the cumin and coriander seeds and toss them around in a hot pan for about 2-3 minutes or until they start to dance and change colour. Then remove the seeds to a pestle and mortar and crush them coarsely and transfer them to a plate. Next, crush the saffron stamens to a powder with the pestle and mortar, then squeeze out the juice of one of the lemons and add it to the saffron, stirring well.

Then prepare the chicken by seasoning the joints with salt and pepper. Slice the peppers in half, remove the seeds and pith and cut each half into 4 large pieces. The onions should be sliced roughly the same size as the peppers. Now heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in the flameproof casserole and, when it's really hot, brown the chicken pieces on all sides – don't overcrowd the pan; it's best to do it in 2 batches, 4 pieces at a time.

After that, remove the chicken pieces to a plate, then add the second tablespoon of oil and turn the heat to its highest setting. When the oil is really hot, add the peppers and onions and cook them in the hot oil, moving them around until their edges are slightly blackened – this should take about 5 minutes – then turn the heat down. Strip the coriander leaves from the stalks, wrap them in a piece of clingfilm and keep them in the fridge. Then chop the coriander stalks finely and add these to the peppers and onions, along with the garlic, chillies, crushed spices, the chickpeas and rice, then give everything a good stir to distribute all the ingredients.

Season well with salt and pepper, then combine the lemon and saffron mixture with the stock and wine, pour it all in to the casserole and stir well. Cut the remaining lemon into thin slices and push these well into the liquid. Now scatter the olives in and, finally, place the pieces of chicken on top of everything. Cover with a tight-fitting lid and place in the pre-heated oven for 1 hour or until the rice and chickpeas are tender. Then, just before serving, scatter the coriander leaves on top and serve straight away on warmed serving plates.

This recipe is taken from Delia Smith’s Winter Collection.

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