Monday, December 30, 2013

Last but not least

And while some of you are probably still looking for recipes for New Year’s Day ham or small desserts and canapés for your New Year’s Eve party, I already know exactly what I’m making.

At last, and perhaps for the first time ever, I have come up and finalized a menu, unlike previous years when I always waited for the last minute to make my mind up about what to cook.

On New Year’s Eve, I’m making braised quails with chestnuts and fresh sage (for those of you who don’t know me well, I should tell you chestnuts are my favorite nut, even when it’s not the holiday season), and on New Year’s day, I’m making oven roasted pork shoulder with juniper berries and wild mushrooms.

Unfortunately I don’t have photographs or recipes to share as I haven’t cooked these dishes yet, but what I can’t wait to share with you is this chicken dish with saffron, shallots, lemon and Jerusalem artichokes (that are neither an artichoke nor from Jerusalem but are a sweet- and earthy-tasting tuber).

I have made this two-three times before, with the last one being for a festive dinner, and it was greeted with enthusiasm. I personally find it extremely tasty with a combination of flavors that is quite interesting.

You start by boiling the Jerusalem artichokes in water until tender, then add all the ingredients in a large bowl, give them a good toss and you leave the chicken to marinate overnight or at least for a few hours.

The following day, you empty everything into a large baking pan and place it in the oven to cook. Your house fills with intoxicating aromas and after a little less than an hour, out comes a golden-hued dish full of delicious flavors.

The slightly metallic notes of saffron, the sweet shallots without that audacious oniony bite, the caramelized sharpness and sourness of the lemon, the liquorice-y nuances of the tarragon, the sweet, buttery Jerusalem artichokes soaking up all the lovely juices from the sumptuous, well-cooked chicken, they all conspire to create a dish that is absolutely stunning.

I wish you all a happy, healthy New Year filled with love, patience, perseverance and lots of laughter! Have a great time wherever you are and whatever you do!

Marinated Roast Chicken with Saffron, Shallots, Lemon and Jerusalem Artichokes
Slightly adapted from Jerusalem by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi

Jerusalem artichokes also go by the name sunchokes. For those of you reading from Holland, they are called aardperen (singular: aardpeer).
If you can’t find them you can substitute with small round potatoes.

We usually have this with a green leaf salad but you can also serve it with a simple steamed/boiled rice, preferably an aromatic basmati.

I used a mandoline to thinly slice the lemon. Use it if you have one, otherwise a very sharp knife will do an equally good job.

Yield: 2-4 main-course servings

600 g Jerusalem artichokes (400-500 g peeled), peeled and cut into wedges about 1.5 cm thick
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 chicken, about 1,200 g, cut into 6-8 pieces*
7-8 banana shallots, peeled and halved lengthwise
8 large garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
1 small lemon, sliced very thinly lengthwise
1 good pinch of saffron threads
60-70 ml (4-5 Tbsp) olive oil
130 ml cold water
3-4 fresh thyme sprigs, leaves picked
3-4 fresh tarragon sprigs, leaves picked, plus extra for garnishing
Freshly ground black pepper

*I always cut the chicken into six pieces; legs, wings and breasts. You can also cut it into eight pieces, separating the legs into thighs and drumsticks, but I prefer not to because they remain juicier.

Special equipment: colander, large barking tray, plastic wrap or plastic bag appropriate for storing food

In a medium-sized pan, add the peeled and cut Jerusalem artichokes along with the lemon juice and cover them with water. Bring to the boil over medium-high heat and then reduce heat to low and simmer for about 10 minutes or until the Jerusalem artichokes are tender but not soft because they will continue cooking with the chicken in the oven. Drain in a colander and leave to cool completely.

In a large bowl, add the Jerusalem artichokes, chicken pieces, shallots, garlic and lemon slices, saffron, olive oil, water, thyme and tarragon leaves, salt and pepper. Mix well and cover the bowl with plastic wrap or alternatively, place all the ingredients in a plastic bag suitable for storing food and seal it. Leave to marinate in the refrigerator overnight or for at least 2 hours.

Take it out of the fridge 20 minutes before you put it in the oven, to allow it to come to room temperature.

Preheat your oven to 200 degrees Celsius / 390 Fahrenheit.
Place the marinated chicken, skin-side up, in a roasting tray large enough to fit all the pieces in one layer, and arrange the rest of the ingredients between the chicken pieces. Drizzle the juices on top.

Place the pan on the middle rack of the oven and roast the chicken for about 50 minutes, until it takes on a golden brown color and the skin becomes crispy and caramelized. Also, if you insert a knife or skewer in the thickest part of the chicken pieces, the juices should run clear and not be reddish in color. Don't cook for longer because the chicken will dry out and become tough.

Serve in dishes, sprinkled with some chopped fresh tarragon leaves.


  1. This year all I'm making is a lime and greek-yoghurt mousse and also caramelized nuts: I'm spending NYE at mu aunt's house, so there's little cooking left for me :)
    Happy 2014 Magda and I'm very happy to have found your blog, it's such an inspiration...

    1. Thank you for your sweet wishes. :) Happy 2014!!

  2. Oh, my - this sounds like the perfect winter dish. I just saw Jerusalem artichokes at the market, and Mark is in a "chicken" mode these days... I will let you know how it comes out. Hope you are not still awake and that your New Year is starting with a restful sleep... xox