In the February issue of Gourmet Traveller there was an article about Arabian food that has inspired this week-long menu plan for a Middle Eastern Feast. I have chosen and slightly adapted three dishes from the magazine and also included a few recipes of my own.
Starting with Chicken Agrodolce, a traditional sweet and sour sauce thought to have been brought to Sicily by the Arabs, is a classic in Italian cuisine. Its name comes from 'aggro' (sour) and 'dolce' (sweet). It is made by reducing sour and sweet elements, traditionally vinegar and sugar. Sometimes additional flavours are added such as wine, fruit, or even chocolate.
I made the sauce a day in advance which really infused the flavours. The chicken stock was home made, I personally believe it makes a difference however it is up to you.
Ingredients100 ml olive oil
6 chicken drumsticks
6 chicken thighs
2 onions, finely diced
2 celery stalks, finely diced
2 carrots, finely diced
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 long red chilli, seeds removed, finely chopped
3 tbsp flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
2 tbsp thyme leaves
½ tsp saffron threads
100 gm caster sugar
100 gm sultanas
50 gm pine nuts
75 ml white wine vinegar
500 ml chicken stock
450 ml verjuice
Preheat oven to 180C.
Heat half oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat.
Add chicken skin-side down in batches and cook, turning once, until browned (5-6 minutes).
Transfer to a large roasting pan.
Heat remaining oil in a saucepan over medium heat.
Add vegetables, garlic, chilli, parsley, thyme and saffron. Stir occasionally until just tender (6-8 minutes). Add sugar, sultanas and pine nuts. Stir occasionally until caramelised (12-15 minutes).
Deglaze pan with vinegar, add stock and verjuice and simmer gently until well flavoured (8-10 minutes).
Season to taste, pour mixture over chicken, cover with foil and braise until chicken is very tender (35-40 minutes).
Serve warm with sauce spooned over.