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Ottolenghi Test Kitchen’s Double Lemon Chicken with Cheat’s Preserved Lemon

by The Ottolenghi Test Kitchen Team from Ottolenghi Test Kitchen: Extra Good Things

Crispy chicken breasts are coated in a sharp preserved lemon sauce in this flavour-packed dish from the Ottolenghi Test Kitchen team. As seen on James Martin's Saturday Morning.

From the book

Yotam Ottolenghi, Noor Murad, The Ottolenghi Test Kitchen Team

Introduction

The universally loved crispy chicken is found in multiple corners of the world and is served on multiple tables, from Austrian schnitzel to Korean fried chicken to the highly Westernised ‘lemon chicken’ that you’d get at your local Chinese restaurant. The latter is the inspiration for this dish, in which a sweet lemony sauce coats crispy fried chicken pieces. This version uses a cheat’s preserved lemon paste and plenty of fresh lemon to brighten it all up. Serve this with tenderstem broccoli with peanut gochujang dressing and/or fragrant coconut rice.

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Ingredients

2 medium (60g) egg whites (save the yolks for another use)
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp cornflour
4 large chicken breasts, boneless and skinless
90ml sunflower oil
1 (15g) spring onion, trimmed and finely sliced at an angle
5g fresh coriander leaves, roughly chopped
2 tbsp lemon juice
salt and black pepper
For the cheat's preserved lemon:
1 large (150g) unwaxed lemon, ends trimmed and discarded, then cut into ½cm-thick rounds, pips removed
60ml (from 2-3 lemons) lemon juice
2 tsp flaked sea salt
For the lemon sauce:
3 tbsp preserved lemon (see above)
700ml chicken stock
25g unsalted butter
2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
1 tbsp caster sugar
⅛ tsp ground turmeric
1½ tsp cumin seeds, toasted and roughly crushed with a pestle and mortar
1½ tbsp cornflour
2 tbsp lemon juice

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Method

Prep time: 20 minutes, Cook time: 1 hour 20 minutes, Marinating time: 30 minutes to overnight.

Make the cheat’s preserved lemon by first putting all the ingredients into a small saucepan, for which you have a lid, on a medium-high heat. Bring to a simmer, then lower the heat to medium-low, cover with the lid and cook for 12–14 minutes, or until the rinds start to look translucent and the juice has reduced by about half. Set aside to cool slightly, then transfer everything to the small bowl of a food processor and blitz until you have a smooth, spreadable paste (similar to lemon curd – add extra water if needed). You’ll make more than you need; see the note below for storage information.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl whisk together the egg whites, soy sauce, cornflour, ½ teaspoon of salt and a good grind of pepper just until there aren’t any lumps, about 30 seconds. Working with one breast at a time, place the chicken between two pieces of baking parchment and use a meat mallet (or the bottom of a pan) to pound the chicken evenly so it’s just 1cm thick. Transfer to the egg-white bowl and continue with the remaining chicken breasts. Stir everything together gently to coat, then marinate for at least half an hour (or refrigerate overnight if you’re getting ahead).

Make the sauce by first putting 3 tablespoons of the cheat’s preserved lemon, the stock, butter, garlic, sugar, turmeric and half the cumin into a medium saucepan and placing it on a medium-high heat. Bring to the boil, then cook for 15 minutes, stirring a couple of times, until reduced by about a third. Measure out roughly 3 tablespoons of the sauce into a small bowl, add the cornflour and whisk until there are no lumps. Whisk this back into the saucepan and cook for 1 minute on medium-high, whisking continuously, until smooth and thickened slightly. Remove from the heat.

Heat the sunflower oil in a large high-sided frying pan over a medium-high heat. Once hot, fry two of the marinated chicken breasts for 3 minutes per side, or until nicely browned and just cooked through. Transfer to a plate lined with kitchen paper and continue with the remaining two breasts (be careful as the oil might spit; turn down the heat if needed). Pour off the oil into a bowl (reserving for another use). Add the lemon sauce to the frying pan and bring to a simmer on a medium-high heat. Put back the chicken breasts and cook for just 3 minutes, gently turning them halfway through. Remove from the heat and stir through the 2 tablespoons of lemon juice for the sauce.

Transfer the chicken breasts to a large serving platter with a lip (cutting them into strips, if you like) and pour the sauce all over. Sprinkle with the remaining cumin. In a small bowl, toss together the spring onion, coriander and lemon juice and spoon this all over.

Cheat’s preserved lemon: Store in a sterilised jar, refrigerated, for up to a month. Double up on the paste, if you like; it’s so great added to dressings or tossed with roasted vegetables.

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From the book: Ottolenghi Test Kitchen: Extra Good Things

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