South Leigh Seasonal Recipes

Two great recipes with flavours that will make you forget all about winter. A one-pot chicken dish with Greek herbs and zesty lemons and M'Hencha, a traditional Morrocan pastry confection that makes a wonderful tear-and-share dessert or special cake to serve with coffee. EL.

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Chicken with Saffron, Lemon & Oregano Rice (Serves 6)

For the marinated chicken:

6 large chicken thighs
zest and juice (approx. 4 tblsps)
of 1 large or 2 small lemons
1 tblsp dried oregano
4 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
salt and black pepper

For the rice:

olive oil, for frying
1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
200g long grain white rice
a pinch of saffron
400ml chicken stock
1 tblsp dried oregano
To finish:
fresh parsley, chopped
1 lemon, sliced

Combine the chicken and the marinade ingredients. Cover and leave in a cool place for 20 minutes to one day, if possible.

Preheat the oven to 180ºC / Gas 4. Remove the chicken from the marinade, reserving the marinade for later. Heat a little olive oil in a deep, oven-proof skillet or lidded oven-proof frying pan. Place the chicken skin-side down in the pan and fry until golden brown on all sides. Remove the chicken and set aside. Next, prepare the lemon slices that will be used with the finished dish. Place the slices of lemon in the hot pan and fry for several minutes, turning them until they are nicely browned. Set aside.

Add the onion to the pan and fry gently for a few minutes until soft but not brown. Add the reserved marinade and cook for a further minute before adding the remaining rice ingredients. Bring to the boil then reduce the heat and return the chicken pieces to the pan. Cover the pan with a lid and place in the oven for 25 minutes or until the liquid is absorbed and the rice is cooked. Remove the lid and bake for a further 10 minutes, uncovered.

Serve with a sprinkling of chopped parsley and the prepared lemon slices.

Good served with a crisp green salad or steamed green beans.

M’Hencha ~ Moroccan Almond, Orange and Rosewater pastry (Serves 8)

270g pack filo pastry (at room temperature)
approx. 50g melted butter
icing sugar, to dust
a handful of finely chopped pistachios
dried rose petals, to decorate
For the filling:
200g butter, cut into cubes
250g icing sugar
2 small eggs
300g ground almonds
2-3 tablespoons rosewater
zest of two oranges
1 tablespoon plain flour

Heat the oven to 180ºC / Gas 4. Grease and line a 20cm cake tin (spring-sided is useful, as are parchment cake tin liners - available from Lakeland).

Combine all the filling ingredients in a food processor until smooth, then chill for at least 30 minutes as the mixure should be the consistency of spreadable butter.

Working as quickly as possible so that the pastry doesn’t become dry and brittle, lay two and a half sheets of filo pastry side by side, to make an oblong with the long edge toward you. Overlap them slightly and brush the overlaps with a little butter to stick, then brush the whole surface with more butter. Repeat with another two and a half sheets of pastry and brush again with butter. Spoon the prepared filling out in a line 2cm in from the long edge of the filo pastry, leaving a small gap at each end. Fold over the ends then roll up into a sausage shape. Coil the sausage as tightly as possible. Don’t worry at all if you get some splits in the pastry - these can be patched by brushing with butter and covering with pieces of the remaining sheet of filo pastry. It will still look great when it is baked. Carefully place the cake into the tin and brush with any remaining melted butter.
Bake in the preheated oven for 40 - 50 minutes. Check every 15 minutes or so, covering the top loosely with a sheet of foil if it is getting too brown.

Leave to stand for a further 45 minutes before serving (it will firm up as it cools).
If not serving immediately, reheat in a low oven for up to an hour. Before serving, dust with icing sugar and sprinkle with the chopped pistachios and rose petals.

  • Good served with orange slices sprinkled with pomegranate seeds, crème fraîche or pistachio ice cream.