My elderly mother-in-law Gwen is a real character. Even though she is 83 years old she still has an eye out for an attractive young man. Usually its unsuspecting waiters she flirts outrageously with – batting her eyelashes or making a saucy comment about how good-looking they are. It makes dining out with her a sometimes embarrassing but highly entertaining experience. Sadly she doesn’t get out as much as she would like to so she looks forward to our weekly ‘food drops’. These usually consist of her favourites – Indian dry mince curry and saffron rice, a ‘baked dinner’ or crumbed chicken breasts which she adores.
Today I hope she’s willing to try something a little different – chicken with preserved lemon. Not too exotic but redolent of the flavours of the Mediterranean – rosemary, preserved lemon, olives, fetta and olive oil.
It’s loosely based on a Maggie Beer recipe so how can she resist!
Chicken with Preserved Lemon and Pancetta
10 x free-range maryland chicken pieces
8 quarters preserved lemon
1/2 cup black kalamata olives
1/3 cup finely chopped rosemary
100g Greek fetta cheese
125ml exttra virgin olice oil
freshly ground black pepper
12 thin slices of pancetta
Cut the drumsticks away from the thighs. Remove the pulp from the preserved lemons, then rinse and cut into thin strips. Toss the chicken pieces in a shallow baking dish and with the presrved lemon, the rosemary, the olive oil and the black pepper. Allow the chicken to sit for an hour for the flavours to infuse.
Meanwhile preheat the oven to 230 degrees celsisus. Make sure the chicken pieces are lying skin-side up, then bake for 15 minutes. Turn the chicken over and turn the tray around so all the chicken cooks evenly. Scatter around the olives and cook for another ten minutes, then test for doneness ( The chicken will contiunue cooking while it rests, but if juices run very pink when you prick the thickess part of the thigh, you may want to return the meat to the oven for a few more minutes)Turn the chicken to the skin-side up again, scatter with fetta cheese and rest covered in foil for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile crisp the pancetta on a baking tray for ten minutes then add to the resting chicken. Serve with a salad and crusty bread.