Even though it is summer, I do crave for some comfort food but a lighter version. This one is comforting but yet refreshing and zingy at the same time! It is not the prettiest looking dish but you’ll forget the look when you will taste it 🙂 Ideally, use a large heavy bottom/cast iron pan with a lid for it.
SAFFRON CHICKEN , CHICKPEA & FENNEL CASSEROLE
(Adopted from Belinda Jeffery)
2 large onions, diced
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 bulb fennel, sliced
3 celery sticks, chopped
1 fresh chilli pepper, finely chopped
3 bay leaves
2 pinches saffron threads
1-2 cinnamon sticks (you can skip this if you don’t like or not sure about the taste)
6-8 chicken pieces (thighs, legs, on a bone)
1 can (400ml) chopped tomatoes
1 can (400 ml) chickpeas
green olives handful
Juice & zest of 1 lemon
salt, pepper to season
1. On a medium heat in a large heavy bottom pan warm up the olive oil and sauté the chopped onions for about 7 minutes. Add garlic and chilli, cook for another 2 minute. Then add chopped fennel and celery and continue cooking for 8 minutes. Crush gently the saffron between your fingers to release extra flavour and add to the vegetables followed by cinnamon sticks (if you are using it). Stir and cook for 2-3 minutes.
2. Push the vegetable to the side of the pan and place the chicken pieces in a pan, let them brown a little, then cover them with the vegetables, pour the chopped tomatoes on a top, then fill up the can from tomatoes half full with cold water and add to the pan, followed by drained chickpeas (everything should be just covered with water). Season with salt and pepper, bring to the boil, then reduce the heat, cover with the lid and let everything gently bubble for 25 minutes.
3. After 25 minutes, take off the lid, turn the chicken pieces around and continue cooking for another 15-20 minutes without the lid. Close to the end of cooking add the olives and lemon juice and zest of the lemon. Adjust the seasoning.
Serve with steamed rice, couscous, naan bread or anything else you like 🙂