Thursday, January 8, 2009

Chicken Fattah

One of the new cookbooks that I received (or did I buy it for myself??) for Christmas is Bonnie Stern's newest offering "Friday Night Dinners". There are so many recipes in this book that I want to make. I came across this recipe on Monday, ran out to pick up a few missing ingredients, and served it that night.

Each part of this recipe can be made ahead of time. This would make a great dinner for company or a couple of dinners for a small family. It does take some time to make all of the different elements, but once you get going it rolls right along.

While the rice & lentils were cooking, I rubbed the chicken thighs with the lemon-garlic mixture. I got the barbecue going (I think it's safe to say that barbecuing boneless-skinless chicken thighs tastes better than baking them!) and grilled the chicken. I would have been happy to have just the grilled chicken for dinner. The lemon & garlic rub was delicious. Then I got the tomato sauce and the tahina sauce going. At this point, I was almost dancing around the kitchen, fully aware that I was making a spectacular dinner for my family.

Fast forward to 6 o'clock, and we are sitting down to a dinner that I would be proud to serve anyone. "Yuck! What is that? I'm not eating that. What are those black things? (they were the lentils)" Eyes narrowed and frowns on, both Ellen & Gavin were, shall we say, reluctant to eat their dinner. I didn't give up, though. I used the homemade chocolate pudding (July '08) as leverage, and they managed to eat most of what they were served. Two nights later, they ate the leftovers (with slightly less coaxing) and I think in the end, they actually enjoyed both meals.

I have a habit of doing this. I come up with some wonderful menu, completely forgetting that I have a 6 and 3 year old that are not always as adventurous as I assume. This time, it worked out in the end. How will they know that they like it until I force them to try it? That's my philosophy and sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't...

Chicken Fattah


2 T. extra-virgin olive oil
3 large onions, thinly sliced
2 c. brown basmati rice
1 c. green lentils, rinsed
5 c. water
2 t. kosher salt

2 T. extra-virgin olive oil
2 t. kosher salt
2 t. grated lemon peel
2 t. minced garlic
4 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken thighs or breasts or a combination

Moroccan Tomato Sauce
2 T. extra-virgin olive oil
1 onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 t. ground cumin
Pinch hot red pepper flakes
1 28-oz can diced tomatoes with juices
1 T. honey
1 T. lemon juice
Salt & Pepper to taste

Tahina Sauce
2 cloves garlic, peeled
1/3 c. tahina
1/4 c. lemon juice
1/2 c. water
1/2 t. hot red pepper sauce
Salt to taste

Chopped fresh cilantro
3 T. toasted pine nuts

1. To prepare mujedrah, heat oil in a large, deep skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions and cook for 15 to 20 minutes, or until very brown. Remove half of onions from pan and reserve.
2. Add rice to onions in skillet and cook for a few minutes. Add lentils, water and salt and bring to a boil. Cover and cook gently for 40 to 45 minutes, or until just tender. Taste and adjust seasonings, if necessary.
3. Meanwhile, to prepare chicken, combine oil, salt, lemon zest and garlic in a small bowl. Rub into chicken. Grill or roast chicken until cooked through and tender, about 8 to 10 minutes per side on the grill or 30 to 40 minutes at 400 degrees.
4. Meanwhile, to prepare tomato sauce, in a large skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and cook for 5 minutes, or until tender but not brown.
5. Add cumin and hot pepper flakes and cook gently for 30 seconds. Add tomatoes and bring to a boil. Cook gently, uncovered, for 15 to 20 minutes, or until thick. Season with honey, lemon juice, salt and pepper.
6. To prepare tahina sauce, in a food processor, combine garlic, tahina, lemon juice, water and hot pepper sauce until smooth. Add salt to taste.
7. To assemble, spread rice and lentils on a large platter. Arrange chicken on top. Spoon tomato sauce over chicken. Sprinkle with reserved onions, cilantro and pine nuts. Drizzle with tahina.