Slow-cooked Chicken with a Crisp Corn Crust
This is a wonderful meal on an autumn day, served with a crisp green salad. The slow-cooked chicken is packed full of flavour and the crust – gluten-free, rich and corny – makes for a welcome (and lighter) change to a heavier mash.
You can make the chicken well in advance if you want to get ahead: it keeps in the fridge for up to 3 days or can be frozen for 1 month. You want it to go into the oven defrosted, though, so it will need thawing out of the freezer. The batter needs to be made fresh and spooned on top of the chicken just before the dish gets baked, but it then can just go back in the oven. It can also be baked a few hours in advance – just warm through for 10 minutes, covered in foil, before serving. I love the combination of the chicken and the corn, but the chicken also works well as it is, served on top of rice, in a wrap or with a buttery jacket potato.
|For the chicken:|
|3 tbsp||olive oil|
|3||red onions, thinly sliced (500g)|
|2||garlic cloves, crushed|
|3 tbsp||rose harissa (or 50% more or less, depending on variety - see tip) (60g)|
|2 tsp||sweet smoked paprika|
|850g||chicken thighs, skinless and boneless (about 9-10 thighs)|
|5||large tomatoes, quartered (400g)|
|200g||jarred roasted red peppers, drained and cut into 2cm thick rounds|
|15g||dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids)|
|20g||coriander, roughly chopped|
|salt and black pepper|
|For the sweetcorn batter:|
|70g||unsalted butter, melted|
|500g||corn kernels, fresh or frozen and defrosted (shaved corn kernels from 4 large corn cobs, if starting from fresh)|
|3 tbsp||whole milk|
|3||eggs, yolks and whites separated|
You will need a large sauté pan with a lid, and a ceramic baking dish with high sides, measuring about 20cm x 30cm.
Heat the oil in a large sauté pan, for which you have a lid, on a medium high heat. Add the onions and fry for 8–9 minutes, stirring a few times, until caramelised and soft. Reduce the heat to medium and add the garlic, harissa, paprika, chicken, 1 teaspoon of salt and a good grind of black pepper. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently, then add the passata and tomatoes. Pour over 350ml of water, bring to the boil, then simmer on a medium heat, covered, for 30 minutes, stirring every once in a while.
Add the peppers and chocolate and continue to simmer for another 35–40 minutes, with the pan now uncovered, stirring frequently, until the sauce is getting thick and the chicken is falling apart. Remove from the heat and stir in the coriander. If you are serving the chicken as it is (as a stew without the batter), it’s ready to serve (or freeze, once it’s come to room temperature) at this stage. If you are making the corn topping, spoon the chicken into a ceramic baking dish – one with high sides that measures about 20 x 30cm – and set aside.
Preheat the oven to 180°C fan.
Pour the butter into a blender with the corn, milk, egg yolks and ¾ teaspoon salt. Blitz for a few seconds, to form a rough paste, then spoon into a large bowl. Place the egg whites in a separate clean bowl and whisk to form firm peaks. Fold these gently into the runny corn mixture until just combined, then pour the mix evenly over the chicken.
Bake for 35 minutes, until the top is golden-brown: keep an eye on it after 25 minutes to make sure the top is not taking on too much colour: you might need to cover it with tin foil for the final 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside for 10 minutes before serving.
Rose harissa: the difference in chilli kick between one rose harissa and the next can be absolutely huge. Recipes in Ottolenghi SIMPLE have been tested with Belazu rose harissa, which I really like. If you're starting with something else, then you'll need to taste what you have and gauge how much to use. A lot of supermarket-own brands are not that punchy, so you'll need to use 50% more than the recipe says. Much of the rose harissa you buy from a North African shop, on the other hand, will have a really spicy kick so you'll need to use 50% less than the recipe says. With heat, it's always going to be a matter of taste and tolerance, so have a play around to see what works for you.