Smoked Chicken Thighs with Saffron and Orange Blossom Caramel, Hazelnut Dukkah and Basil

Transform your barbecue fare with this mouth-watering Middle Eastern chicken thigh recipe from popular London restaurant, Berber & Q.

Berber & Q
From the book Berber & Q
By

Introduction

Chicken thighs on the bone are a great starting point for any budding barbecue enthusiast keen to start a relationship with fire and outdoor cookery. They are quite forgiving to fluctuations in temperature; they cook relatively quickly; and are also inexpensive, which makes them a useful beginner’s ingredient for playing around with whilst you learn about the properties of your barbecue and of fire, and how to control the temperature of both. These smoked chicken thighs are great as a snack for when the boys (or girls) come round to watch the game. Make a bucketload and pass them round.

Serves 4

Ingredients

For the saffron orange caramel:
180ml freshly squeezed orange juice, strained
200g caster sugar
100ml saffron water (a generous pinch of saffron soaked in 100ml boiling water and left to infuse for 15 minutes) §
1 tbsp orange blossom flower water
Chicken thighs:
8 chicken thighs, on the bone
75g Everyday Chicken Rub (see ingredients below)
For the garnish:
picked basil leaves, ripped
pinch Aleppo chilli flakes (also known as pul biber or red pepper flakes) or use 1 tsp dried chilli flakes
2 tbsp Hazelnut Dukkah (see ingredients below)
For the Everyday Chicken Rub (makes about 75g):
2 tbsp ground sumac
1 tbsp Aleppo chilli flakes or use 1 tsp dried chilli flakes
1 tbsp garlic granules or powder
1 tsp ground turmeric
2 tsp salt
1 tsp coarse ground black pepper
2 tsp ground coriander
2 tbsp soft dark brown sugar
For the Hazelnut Dukkah (makes about 200g):
60g hazelnuts, toasted
10 tbsp coriander seeds, toasted
50g cumin seeds, toasted
6 tbsp sesame seeds, toasted
1½ tbsp flaked sea salt
1 tsp coarse ground black pepper

Essential kit

You will need: woodchips and a barbecue with a lid.

Instructions

FOR THE EVERYDAY CHICKEN RUB Put all the ingredients in a small bowl and mix well.

FOR THE HAZELNUT DUKKAH Blend the hazelnuts in a food processor to coarse crumbs. Don’t process the nuts for too long. The idea is to retain some texture to the dukkah, with some larger pieces intermingled with smaller ones. Use a mortar and pestle to grind the coriander and cumin seeds. In the absence of a mortar and pestle, a spice grinder can be used, but once again, don’t overgrind the seeds to a fine powder. Retain some texture and crunch by just pulsing them a few times. Season the dukkah with salt and black pepper and store in an airtight container in the larder for several months.

FOR THE SAFFRON ORANGE CARAMEL Combine the orange juice, sugar and saffron water in a heavy-based saucepan and cook over medium-high heat until a caramel has formed with the consistency of a loose honey. Resist the urge to dip your finger in to test this. It won’t forgive you easily. Remove from the heat and stir in the orange blossom flower water.

FOR THE CHICKEN THIGHS Toss the thighs in the rub, making sure each thigh is well coated and the spice mix is evenly distributed. Set a barbecue up for smoking using two-zone indirect grilling with an internal temperature of between 130°C and 150°C. Arrange the thighs in a single layer on the grill rack with no burning coals underneath, set up for reverse-searing. Add some woodchips to the burning coals, put the lid on the barbecue and smoke for 40–45 minutes, or until the internal temperature when measured with a thermometer probe reads ideally between 70°C and 75°C (or above). In the absence of a probe, cut into the meat to the bone and check the juices run clear. Remove the lid from the barbecue and use tongs to transfer the thighs for reverse-searing so that they are directly grilling over the hot coals. Start to baste the chicken thighs in the caramel, turning regularly and continuing to baste on each side. Pour approximately the last quarter of the caramel into a heavy-based cast-iron pan and place on the grill next to the thighs, allowing the caramel to bubble and thicken. Nicely char the outside of the thighs to ensure they are well coloured and the skins have crisped up, then transfer to the castiron pan. Cook for a final 1–2 minutes in the reducing caramel, spooning the sauce over the thighs as you go.

TO GARNISH Remove the pan from the grill, throw some ripped basil over to wilt in the residual heat, and garnish with chilli flakes and hazelnut dukkah. Serve immediately.

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