Chicken Giouvetsi with Preserved Lemons and Orzo Pasta (Channel 4- The Food Chain)

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Photo by @dangreenphoto, http://www.dangreenphotography.com

One late autumn Friday afternoon, as I was writing recipes inspired by Welsh ingredients and my Greek home, I received a call from a lovely man called Jonathan, asking very specifically about my preserved lemons recipe. ‘Would you be willing to be filmed preparing preserved for our TV programme?’ he asked, ‘And what about sharing a recipe that uses preserved lemons?’ My answer of course was YES! And tonight, on 21 March 2016, you can see me do that at 8.30pm on Channel 4 when the first episode of The Food Chain kicks off starting with the ingredients of Apple & Salt, grown and produced in the UK and travelling to your plate through our stories and recipes.

It would suffice to say that coming from Greece I use only sea salt for cooking! So it has been a great relief that there are still some great businesses in the UK that produce fantastic sea salt for us. Using sea salt definitely adds to the flavour of food and I believe that its health benefits are much greater for all of us. So now you know what ingredient I will be using!

For those keen cooks who would like to try the recipe on the Food Chain Programme, you can find my preserved lemons recipe here, and below is an adapted version of my Παππού/Pappou’s (Grandad in Greek) Giouvetsi recipe which uses preserved lemon and my beloved spice of cinnamon.

Enjoy! And Καλή Όρεξη/Kalee Oreksi!

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Ingredients (feeds 4-6)

  • 1kg chicken thighs and drumsticks (skin on)
  • 2 onions, finely chopped
  • ½ preserved lemon, flesh removed and finely chopped
  • 1 tsp sweet paprika
  • 1-2 tsp sea salt
  • 1-2 cinnamon sticks
  • 500g orzo pasta/κριθαράκι
  • 5 whole allspice or pimento berries
  • 6 garlic cloves
  • 2 tbsp. tomato paste
  • 1 heaped tsp oregano
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • Up to 1lt stock
  • Additional sea salt to taste
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Fresh, chopped parsley (optional)

Preparation (1.5hrs in total)

  1. Place the chicken, preserved lemons, paprika and half of the garlic crushed in a bowl with a couple of glugs of olive oil and 2 tsp of salt.
  2. Mix well, cover and leave aside to marinade for at least half an hour (or overnight in the fridge if you prepare the day before for extra flavour).
  3. In a casserole dish or oven tray with a lid, which is suitable for oven use, preheat olive oil on the hob, enough to coat its surface.
  4. Brown the chicken pieces well on all sides taking care not to burn.
  5. Before the process finishes add the finely chopped onions, the cinnamon stick and the pimento/all spice berries and sauté with the chicken for flavour and until just soft.
  6. Add the tomato paste stirring well to dissolve, additional garlic, dried oregano, pepper, sugar and finally at least 750ml of the boiling stock.
  7. Cover with the lid and place swiftly in the oven cooking on high heat for ten minutes.
  8. Cook for an additional thirty minutes on medium heat.
  9. Then remove from the oven to add the orzo pasta, stirring in carefully so as not to ‘break’ the chicken flesh.
  10. Return to the oven and cook on medium heat for another 20 minutes checking whether you need to add an additional 250ml of stock for the past to cook (particularly if the pasta has ‘drunk’ most of the water and is still quite tough)
  11. Let the dish sit for 15-20 minutes and serve with fresh parsley if you prefer that.
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