Sunday, June 2, 2013

Saffron Chicken & Herb Salad

First, dear readers, my extreme apologies for being so far behind in my posts….it’s been an unusual couple of weeks – some happy and some sad events, but all cherished memories.  I traveled to Cape Cod over Memorial Day weekend and I will write about that later.

Anyway, two Wednesdays ago, we had dinner at Singer’s house and she made another delicious dish from the Jerusalem cookbook…I think we all have a copy of that book now (although mine is on my jazzy new iPad mini but I wish I had the's really beautiful).  The recipe she made, Saffron Chicken & Herb Salad, calls for boiling a whole orange, reducing it to a paste and pouring it over grilled chicken.  This reduction method produces an intense citrus flavor and just a touch will add a little zip to pork, fish as well as poultry, salsa or even cake.  The saffron and orange combination creates a colorful dish that is both bitter sweet – because of the orange – and earthy – courtesy of the saffron.  Our taste buds were doing a little dance!

Saffron Chicken & Herb Salad
From:  Jerusalem Cookbook

1 large orange
2 ½ tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 ¼ cups water
2 ¼ lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 small fennel bulbs, thinly sliced
1 cup fresh cilantro leaves
2/3 cup fresh basil leaves, torn
15 fresh mint leaves, torn
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 red chile, thinly sliced
1 clove garlic, crushed
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Preheat the oven to 400°.  Trim and discard 3/8 inch off of the top and bottom of the orange and cut it into 12 wedges, retaining the skim and discarding the seeds.  Place the orange wedges, honey, saffron, vinegar, and just enough water to cover the oranges in a small saucepan.  Bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer gently for an hour.  At that point, you should have soft oranges and about 3 tablespoons of thick syrup.  Add water during the cooking process if the liquid gets too low.  Use a food processor to “blitz” the orange an syrup in a smooth, runny paste adding a little water if needed.

Mix the chicken breasts with half the olive oil and plenty of salt and pepper and grill on each side until dark char marks appear.  Transfer the chicken to a roasting pan and place in the oven for 20 minutes.  Once the chicken is cool enough to handle, tear it into rough, large pieces.  Place the pieces in a mixing bowl, pour half the orange paste over the chicken and incorporate well.  Save the other half of the paste for another dish…it will last in the fridge for a couple of days.  Add the remaining ingredients to the salad, including the rest of the olive oil and toss gently.  Singer served this moist and flavorful chicken on top of a bed of greens from her garden.
We had a lovely evening hanging out under the wisteria-laced arbor!

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