butterchickenroastchicken

Butter Chicken Roast Chicken Breast

Whenever I break a chicken down into component parts, I always want to do something different with the breast. Sometimes I remove the meat from the bone, cut into strips and make chicken fingers. Sometimes I’ll glaze the bone-in breast and roast it. Today I wanted to take the flavours of India and build even more flavour over the roasting process to make an extra savoury version of butter chicken. Plus a little extra treat in there too! Enjoy!!

Butter Chicken Roast Chicken Breast:

For the Tikka Marinade:

1 Tbsp, each, mustard seeds, coriander seeds, fennel seeds, cumin seeds and turmeric
1 tsp hot paprika (or cayenne or other powdered red chilli)
1 cup plain yogurt
1/4 cup sour cream
1/4 cup cold pressed camelina oil (or other cold pressed/extra virgin oil)

1 whole bone-in, skin-on chicken breast (it could be a whole chicken as well if you want to make a lot. Simply double the roasting vegetable ingredients below)

For the roasting pan:

1 cup sliced onions
1/2 cup sliced celery
1/4 cup sliced fresh ginger
1 cup water
1-2 bay leaves

For Option 1:

Half of the Tikka Roasted Chicken Breast, sliced
8 flatbreads
Lettuce, tomato and plain yogurt to serve

For Option 2:

Half of the Tikka Roast Chicken Breast, cut into chunks
Purée of roasting vegetables and juices (without the bay leaf)
2 Tbsp tomato paste
1/4 cup sour cream
1 Tbsp raw, creamed honey
Cooked rice, to serve

For the Tikka Marinade, add the spices to a spice grinder and grind until a powder is achieved. Add this spice mixture to a large zip freezer bag. Add the yogurt, sour cream and oil and whisk it all together to combine. Add the chicken breast, massage the marinade over the entire chicken breast. Zip the bag closed, place into a medium bowl and refrigerate for 3-4 hours so the marinade can penetrate the meat.
Preheat oven to 190C375F.
In a 25cm/10″ square roasting pan, add the onions, celery, ginger, water and bay leaves. Pull the chicken from the marinade, leaving an marinade that sticks to the chicken on there and place it on the roasting vegetables. Roast in the preheated oven for 45 minutes to an hour depending on the size of your chicken breast.
Option 1: Slice the meat from half of the breast and serve on flatbreads with lettuce, tomato and yogurt for a simple wrap.

DeconButterChickenWrap.png
Option 2: Purée the roasting vegetables and roasting juices in a blender, then pour into a large pan over medium high heat. Add the tomato paste, sour cream and honey. Stir and simmer over medium high heat for 5-7 minutes. Add the chicken and simmer for a few minutes more. Serve with rice.

RoastedButterChicken.png
Serves 4-6 people, two different meals.

kazakhmantiburger

Kazakh Manti Burger with Sabzi Piez

Manti in Kazakhstan and across much of Central Asia is a type of meaty dumpling. Oftentimes the meat is lamb, but can also be chicken or horse meat. A vegetable component can also be worked into the meat besides the flavour base of onions, salt and pepper.
I thought this meaty filling would make a great burger. Upon studying the food of Kazakhstan deeper, I wanted to see what else in their cuisine would lend itself to compliment a burger. The bright, spicy and fresh spicy vegetable stew, Sabzi Piez, is like a salsa that decided to have a load of carrots tag along! It’s the perfect accompaniment to a lamb Manti.
Enjoy!!

For the Manti Burger:

200g/8oz ground lamb
1/2 cup finely shredded carrot
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp salt

For the Sabzi Piez (Spicy Vegetable Stew):

1 Tbsp oil
1 Tbsp butter
1 medium onion, peeled and sliced into rings
1 red chilli, stemmed, and chopped
1 medium fresh tomato (or 6-8 cherry tomatoes), chopped
1-1/4 cups julienned carrots, blanched for 3-4 minutes, drained
2 Tbsp vinegar
1/2 tsp salt
2 Tbsp fresh cilantro, finely chopped

2 crusty rolls, to serve

For the Manti Burger, squeeze out as much moisture from the shredded carrots as possible, then work them together with the ground lamb, chopped onions and black pepper. Once the mixture is tightly bound together, divide into two portions and form into oblong patties.
Preheat a cast iron pan over medium high heat. Add 2 tsp oil to the pan. When the oil smoulders but does not quite smoke, sprinkle the lamb patties with salt on both sides and place in the pan. Griddle for 4-5 minutes per side, or until deeply golden and cooked through. Set aside and keep warm while you prepare the Sabzi Piez.
For the Sabzi Piez, add the oil and butter to a medium pan over medium high heat. When the butter has melted and started to bubble, add the onions and chilli. Sauté for 5-7 minutes until softened and lightly golden. Add the tomato and blanched carrots and sauté for a further 4-5 minutes. Add the vinegar and salt and sauté for another minute or two until uniformly combined. Take off the heat and stir in the fresh cilantro.
To serve, divide heaping spoonfuls of Sabzi Piez on the bottom of each split crusty roll. Top with a griddled Manti Burger and the tops of the rolls. Serves 2.

barleyjambalaya

Barley Jambalaya

A sudden drop in temperatures in December means heartier fare. A simple salad usually means a stew. A rice dish becomes a barley dish. And the flavours attached usually need to be bolder, more comforting.
The classic Louisiana dish, jambalaya, has a mixed heritage in its origins. African, French, Spanish all collide to create a harmonious blend of flavours based on the region they reside in.
When you add a prairie Canadian winter to the mix, a land rippling with various grains in the fields, barley is one of the more common crops you see. I recall seeing waves of that alternating with wheat, canola, flax and oats growing up in a smaller city. The fringes of town bordered right on farms so a farm was no more than a walk or bike ride away. Plucking wild oats from the edges of the road and chewing them was a common thing amongst the sillier of kids (ahem….I mean mmmm….I mean…..😉 )
These memories are triggered each time I cook with barley and I’m fortunate to know a farm, Gold Forest Grains, who grows exceptional barley and a host of other heritage varieties of grains and pulses.
I also have a wonderful friend who has roots in Louisiana and has taught me a great deal from her passion for southern US food. Real Jambalaya isn’t a dry rice dish. That’s a pilaf. Jambalaya is almost creamy and luxurious like a risotto. It’s pure comfort.
By combining these two elements I connect my life in prairie Canada and a friendship with a great friend. A great joy that comes through the dish and warms both the heart and belly.

Barley Jambalaya:

1 tsp oil
100g/4 oz smoked pork sausage, chopped
1 cup chopped onions
3/4 cup chopped celery
3/4 cup chopped bell peppers
1 chopped jalapeño
1 cup tomato sauce
2 Tbsp Creole seasoning
3/4 cup uncooked barley
1 cup ham hock stock (the liquid from simmering a ham hock. I usually have a few containers in my freezer. They add a boost of smoky flavour to soups, stews or rice/barley dishes)
2 cups chicken stock

In a large pot, heat the oil over medium high heat. Add the sausage and sauté until golden.
Add the onions, celery, bell peppers and and jalapeño and sauté until the vegetables are softened but not browned (about 4-6 minutes).
Add the tomato sauce and Creole seasoning, stirring, coating and toasting over the rest of the ingredients until the tomato sauce reduces by half and the spices become very aromatic.
Add the barley and coat it in the flavourful vegetables, stirring and toasting it briefly. Add the ham hock and chicken stock, stirring to loosen the barley from the tomato-y flavour base. Bring to a gentle boil, reduce heat to medium low, cover with a lid and simmer for 40-45 minutes. Remove the lid and stir the mixture more consistently for another 15-20 minutes until it becomes thicker and more luxurious. Serves 4-6.

pattymelt

Patty Melt

When I first heard of the idea of a patty melt, I thought it was genius. The union of a grilled cheese sandwich and a burger. While conceptually, the idea seems easy, there are small details that can ruin it.
If the bread is too thin, the burger makes the whole thing floppy.
If the burger is too thin, there’s no meaty comfort.
If the sauce is too heavy, the bread falls apart.
How did I solve these problems?
Firstly, a specific kind of bread is used. I wanted to simply use a good sandwich bread that can be found anywhere. I decided the bread needed a barrier to absorb potential moisture so it doesn’t fall apart. When I make French toast, I like to dredge the eggy bread in oats. It not only gives a delightful crunch but almost limitless absorptivity for maple syrup. The most important part of French toast to this Canadian!😉 This is an important inner part of the bread component to absorb any meaty juices from the burger.
Secondly, the burger component. Normally I don’t like to bind my ground meat with eggs and breadcrumbs. It takes away the meaty texture and flavour. If I’m taking the time to find a quality rancher who cares for the animal I wish to eat, I want to ensure every part of that animal is treated with the same respect in my kitchen. In this case, binding with egg and breadcrumbs. To replace some of the meatiness that is diminished, I season the patty more liberally than normal. But not with salt. Salt, when mixed into meat, will start to degrade the muscle fibres in ways that affect texture no matter if it is bound or not. I make my own Creole seasoning for host of things to add flavour. Whether it’s this patty, or eggs, or oven roasted potatoes. An intensely flavoured seasoning is good to have on hand at any time.
Thirdly, a sauce that one would associate with a burger. I don’t put anything in the patty melt. I reserve any sauce as a dipping sauce on the side and the intensely seasoned patty covers a lot of the flavour a sauce would normally add.
Finally, always use a cheese that has extra flavour in it. Whether it’s an extra aged cheddar, any smoked cheese that you can find, or cheeses infused with herbs, spices, wines or beers, any of these flavoured cheeses will work wonders.
Let the patty melt games begin…

For the Creole Seasoning:

1/2 cup chili powder
1/2 cup sweet paprika
1/4 cup ground cumin seeds
2 Tbsp mustard seeds
2 Tbsp celery seeds
2 tsp black pepper
1/2 cup dried oregano

For the Patties:

220g/8oz ground beef
2 eggs
2/3 cup whole wheat breadcrumbs
1/4 cup Creole seasoning

For the Patty Melt:

Prepared Patties
4 slices whole wheat bread
2 eggs + 1/4 cup milk, beaten together in a small bowl
1 cup rolled oats
150g/6 oz shredded jalapeño jack cheese (or any highly flavoured cheese)
4 Tbsp butter

For the creole seasoning, combine all of the spices in a medium bowl until uniformly combined. This is going to be more than what you need for this recipe, but it stays in an airtight container for a month or more. It won’t last that long, trust me.
For the patties, combine the ground beef, eggs, 1/4 cup of creole seasoning and breadcrumbs in a medium bowl. Stir vigorously with your fingers, squeezing the mixture between your fingers to ensure a full incorporation of all ingredients.
Divide the patty mixture into two portions. Lay each portion on a sheet of parchment paper. Press each into a rectangular shape and flatten to the size of your bread slices so it fits the sandwich completely.
Set a cast iron pan over medium heat. Add a tablespoon of oil and when the oil smoulders and almost starts to smoke, add the patties carefully into the pan. Griddle them for 4-5 minutes per side until they are deeply golden and cooked through. Set aside on paper towels to drain and keep warm while you prepare the bread.
For the patty melt, dredge the bread, one slice at a time, on one side in the egg-milk mixture, then into the rolled oats. Preheat a large nonstick pan over medium heat. Add 2 teaspoons of oil and two teaspoons of butter. When the butter melts and bubbles, add the dredged bread, oat side down and griddle for 90 seconds to two minutes. As the bread griddles, spread the side facing up with butter. When the oats have toasted to a golden brown, flip and griddle the buttered side. Sprinkle each golden oat side with one quarter of the cheese. When the cheese has melted and the buttered side is golden, remove from the pan, add a prepared patty and top with another toasted, cheesy bread slice. Serve with your favourite dipping sauce. I’m partial to an equal blend of sweet chilli sauce, relish and Greek yogurt. Serves 2.

img_6020

Blackened Chicken and Roasted Pepper Frittata with Diner-Style Hashbrowns

In Edmonton, the city I live, wherever you go you see a flashy black and white bird. The magpie. They strut everywhere. In yards, in parking lots, on rooftops, on patios. And when they do fly, you get a display of their black and white feathers that shimmer an iridescent greenish hue in the light. Some think of them as garbage collectors because they are opportunistic scavengers. Essentially, they clean up other’s garbage. In a wilder environment, they follow larger birds or mammals and clean up what the others don’t eat.
Now what does this have to do with a recipe? I get inspired in many places. The more I learned about this ubiquitous Edmonton bird, the more I was fascinated. They work as a community to raise their children. They mourn their dead and ” eat the remains.” They’re cognizant of environmental conditions and how well they can care for a given year’s young so they may eat their own eggs if they think the number laid can’t survive.
I thought about all of this in a brunch dish to make a “MagPie.” Magpies have massive, riotous nests and that immediately reminded me of American diner-style shredded hashbrowns. These birds also cache away food all over the place so I thought a frittata represents this playful hiding of ingredients perfectly. Finally, within the frittata, I though a “blackened” chicken breast can represent this black and white bird with little bits of long red roasted peppers and bits of cheese to represent their hidden food.
Food is supposed to be fun and silly sometimes. It makes the process of cooking a true joy!! Happy brunching!!

Blackened Chicken and Roasted Pepper Frittata with Diner-Style Hashbrowns:

For the Blackened Chicken:

200g chicken breast, cut into 2cm/1″ wide strips
3 Tbsp creole seasoning (or cajun seasoning)
2 tsp oil

For the Blackened Chicken and Roasted Pepper Frittata:

Prepared Blackened Chicken, cut into 1cm (1/2″) slices
1 medium red bell pepper, broiled for 5-7 minutes until the skin is blackened. Peel, stem, seed and slice
60g/2 oz mozzarella or smoked cheddar, cut into small cubes
4 eggs
1/2 cup milk

For the Diner-Style Hashbrowns:

400g starchy potatoes (like Russet), peeled, coarsely shredded
1/2 tsp salt
4-6 tsp oil, for griddle frying

Preheat oven to 190C/375F.
To prepare the Blackened Chicken, place the chicken strips on a plate. Sprinkle liberally with half of the creole seasoning. Turn the chicken strips and sprinkle them with more seasoning. Rub and coat each chicken strip evenly.
Preheat a cast iron pan over medium high heat. Add 2 tsp oil to the preheated pan. When you add a small pinch of creole seasoning to the oil and it crackles, but not smokes, it’s ready. Add the coated chicken strips to the pan and fry for 2-3 minutes per side until deeply golden and lightly blackened. Remove from heat and drain on paper towels. Cut into 1cm (1/2″) slices. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs and milk until smooth.
Line a 25cm/10″ square cake pan with parchment paper. Lightly oil the parchment paper. Pour the egg mixture in the prepared pan. Lay the chicken, roasted peppers and cheese evenly over the egg mixture. Place the pan in the preheated oven on the centre rack and bake for 23-25 minutes until set and just lightly golden on top. While it bakes you can prepare the hashbrowns.
Using your hands, grab handfuls of the salted, shredded potato and wring out as much moisture as you can.
Preheat a cast iron pan over medium heat. Add a teaspoon or so of oil and let it come to just shy of smoking. Take 3/4 cup of the shredded potato in your hands, wring out moisture again and sprinkle it in an even layer in the pan. Oil a smaller lid for a pot and press it down on the potato hashbrown. Allow to griddle for about three minutes until it is deeply golden. Flip the hashbrown, press down with the lid again and allow to griddle for about 3 minutes. Repeat with the remaining potatoes. The timing should have the hashbrowns just about done in time to take out the frittata.
To serve, cut the frittata into four pieces and serve on top of a hashbrown. Serves 4.

chickenandglazedmushroompizza

Chicken and Glazed Mushroom Pizza

Every Saturday was Pizza Night growing up. It was one of the first things I learned how to cook. It teaches you almost every skill you need in the kitchen. Working with dough, cutting meat or veggies for toppings, shredding cheese. assembling and baking.
I also learned that pizza is a phenomenal way to use up leftovers from the week or try something new in the kitchen in a fun and creative way!
Lately I’ve been on a mushroom kick. I’ve always loved mushrooms, but in the last month or so I’ve been eating them almost daily. My latest favourite way to enjoy mushrooms is to pan roast them with onions and glaze them with rhubarb jelly. Any fruit jelly would do, but a local farmer, Sparrows Nest Organics, makes an incredible rhubarb jelly that still maintains a lot of the rhubarb’s inherent tartness. These glazed mushrooms are amazing on a crostini, in a grilled cheese sandwich. Or on a pizza.
While on their own, these pizzas could be the star of the pizza on their own as a vegetarian option, but I happened to have some Garlic Sage Braised Chicken leftover in my fridge so it made its way on this pizza.
Because of the sweetness I wanted a complimentary cheese or two to go with the mushrooms, so I went with a spicy Red Hot Chilli Pepper Jack cheese from the western Canadian cheesemakers Bothwell Cheese and their latest “mushroomy” cheese Smoked Chanterelle Mushroom Extra Old Cheddar. That’s an obviously dangerously delicious cheese in my mushroom mad state!! It’s a seasonal cheese with the fine local foragers of Untamed Feast, so I have to enjoy it while I can!!
Any spicy cheese and savoury, mushroomy or truffle cheese would be great! Or a great aged cheddar itself!! Enjoy and play with dough!!

Chicken and Glazed Mushroom Pizza

For the dough:

1 cup einkorn wheat flour, or a whole wheat all purpose flour
1 cup red fife wheat flour, or a whole wheat bread flour
1 tsp salt
7/8 cup warm water
1 tsp active dry yeast
Pinch sugar

For the Glazed Mushrooms:

100g/4 oz fresh white mushrooms, quartered
1 small onion, peeled and sliced
1 tsp oil + 1 tsp butter
1 Tbsp rhubarb jelly or any fruit jelly (I prefer a tart fruit jelly like rhubarb or sour cherry because the sugar in the jelly is sweet enough and I like a flavour contrast)

For the pizza:

1/3 cup pizza sauce (homemade or good quality store bought. Go see an Italian grocer or your favourite pizza place and ask for some. The worst they can say is no. Then they’re not your favourite anymore😉 )
Prepared Glazed Mushrooms
100g leftover shredded, cooked chicken
150g/6 oz cheese (I used a blend of Red Hot Chilli Pepper Jack cheese and Smoked Chanterelle Extra Old Cheddar, but like I said above, find great, locally made cheese near you!!)

Preheat oven to 220C/450F.
In a large bowl, combine the flours. Make a well in the centre. Sprinkle the salt around the perimeter. Add the warm water to the well in the centre. Stir in the yeast and sugar to the water. Allow the yeast to bloom and bubble for 10 minutes.
Start to bring in flour from the outer edges into the bloomed yeast, stirring gradually with a fork until a paste forms. Keep drawing in flour gradually until a sticky dough forms. Tip this dough on to a floured counter to knead for another few minutes until the dough is only slightly sticky. Return to a floured bowl, cover and allow to rise for an hour.
For the mushrooms, place a large pan over medium high heat. Add the oil and butter. When the butter melts and starts to sizzle, add the mushrooms in a single layer. Allow them to brown on each side for 3-5 minutes per side. Add the onions and sauté for a further 3-5 minutes until the onions soften and become lightly golden. Add the jelly and stir and swirl the pan until it melts and coats everything. Remove from the heat and transfer to a bowl to cool to room temperature.
To assemble the pizza, invert a large baking sheet so the bottom is facing up. Drizzle that surface with a teaspoon or so of oil. Spread it out evenly with the palm of your hand to get an evenly oiled surface.
Divide the risen dough in two. Stretch each dough portion into a rough circle about 1cm (1/2″) thick. Divide the pizza sauce over the two prepared pizzas. Add the spicy cheese to the bottom of each pizza. Scatter evenly with chicken and Glazed Mushrooms. Top with a light scattering of cheddar. Bake on the middle rack of the preheated oven for 10 minutes. Switch the oven to broil/grill and broil for a further 3-4 minutes until the top is deeply golden. Makes 2-25cm/10″ pizzas.

coffeekifli

Coffee Kifli (Hungarian Crescent Pastry)

Every Christmas, I bake a variety of items that reflect on my family’s traditions. My father’s Hungarian side contributed to a lot of our family’s food traditions. One of the more popular pastries in my family is Kifli. This crescent-shaped pastry was usually filled with a sweet walnut filling that is spiked with a lemon flavour. I love that variety and make hundreds of them every December.
But this year I wanted to do a slight twist that still lent respect to the original. Every Friday I go to my neighbourhood bakery for bread and other assorted baked goods. I get myself some kind of sweet treat to sit and enjoy with a delicious Dutch coffee. In Dutch, the word for coffee is “koffie.” Upon first glance it looks like “kifli” to my Hungarian-influenced brain. So I decided to blend the two ideas into a coffee-flavoured kifli with coffee in the walnut filling and coffee in the powdered sugar that covers the exterior!! Such a good idea. I’m not usually one to boast, but seriously, this treat is unreal!! Yum!!

Coffee Kifli (Hungarian Crescent Pastry):

For the dough:

3 cups flour (I use a whole grain heritage wheat flour like red fife or spelt flour)
2 tsp baking powder
Pinch salt
Pinch sugar
1 cup butter
2 large eggs
1/2 cup milk

For the Coffee Walnut Filling:

2-1/2 cups walnuts
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/3 cup espresso or strong coffee
2 tsp very finely ground coffee

For the Coffee “Snow”:

1/2 cup sugar
1 Tbsp ground coffee
1 Tbsp corn starch
For the dough, in a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. Gradually work in the softened butter until the mixture is crumbly. Whisk the eggs with the milk in a medium bowl and work into the butter-crumbled dry mixture. Knead the dough for a few minutes until smooth and no longer sticky. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour.
To make the filling, add the walnuts, maple syrup, espresso and ground coffee to a food processor or blender and pulse a few times until it achieves the texture of a chunky peanut butter. If it’s still quite dry add a tablespoon or two of water to achieve the desired consistency. Set aside.
To make the Coffee “Snow,” place the sugar, coffee and corn starch in a blender and purée until a very fine powder is achieved. Set aside in a resealable freezer bag.
Preheat oven to 190C/375F. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper.
Remove the prepared dough from the refrigerator and split into 6 equal portions. Roll each portion out into a large rectangle about 1/4cm (1/8″) thick. cut into rough 5cm/2″ squares.
Add a teaspoon of filling to the centre of each rolled square of dough. Roll the dough around the filling from one corner, diagonally, to the other corner making a tube shape. Pinch the seams closed, making tapered points on each end and bend the tube shape into a crescent shape. Place on the prepared baking sheet and bake in the preheated oven for 7-9 minutes or until lightly golden on the bottom. Remove from the pan and allow to cool on cooling racks.
To serve, add half a dozen or so baked Coffee Kifli to the freezer bag filled with Coffee “Snow,” close the bag and shake to coat the pastry completely. Serve immediately.
I generally only do the sugar coating to serve so coat only the amount you need for a given moment. The uncovered, baked pastries freeze beautifully, Makes about 5 dozen.

maplegingerveg

Maple Ginger Roasted Root Vegetables

When I first met my sister-in-law, she knew I liked to cook. She gave me a cookbook from her native Indonesia, then proceeded to get my knife skills in the kitchen to prepare enough saté (satay) for an army.
At that time, my mother was pescatarian (fish eating vegetarian) so I wanted to have a creative dish to go along with the “meat on a stick fest.” I decided to bridge the gap between my family’s Canadian roots and my sister-in-law’s Asian heritage and make a Maple Ginger Roasted Root Vegetable dish.
While not always seen as a full meal option, it can make for a nice light lunch or a great brunch side with eggs. I see it as the evolution of my family. Another branch to add richness to an increasingly diverse tree.

Maple Ginger Roasted Root Vegetables

8 cups mixed root vegetables (rutabaga, carrots, parsnips, red potatoes), cut into 1cm (1/2″) chunks
1/2 cup maple syrup
3 Tbsp cold pressed oil
2 Tbsp fresh grated ginger

Preheat oven to 190C/375F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, whisk together the maple syrup, oil and ginger. Add the vegetables and toss with your fingers to uniformly coat everything. Spread out evenly on the prepared baking sheet and roast on the lower rack of the preheated oven for 60 minutes, giving the vegetables a turn every 20 minutes or so. Serves 4 as a side or 2 as a light lunch.

jordanianzarbburger

Jordanian Zarb Burger

When exploring food from around the world, you see things that you think are distinctive to a specific country. Pizza is Italian. But if you travel down the Mediterranean, you find manakeesh across the Middle East. A stretched dough, topped with a variety of meats, herbs, spices or veggies and baked in a hot oven. Sometimes humanity, when exposed to certain ingredients will do similar things. Oftentimes, such innovations are borne from desperation or poverty, but sometimes it’s as simple as a family wanting to put a meal together, share it with each other, their friends, or their community.
The idea of baking beneath the earth in a large hole in the ground upon first thought, may bring up images of the Indian tandoor. A large clay oven that becomes a baking vessel for everything from meat, veggies or breads.
The Bedouin people in the Arabic peninsula bake either large pieces of meat or small chunks, in a hole in the ground, along with accompanying veggies and breads. The Bedouins are a nomadic people so digging a hole in the parched desert ground and covering it while it cooks kept the heat in the hole. This limited the added heat of a fire to the already incendiary conditions of the Arabian desert.
Lamb and chicken are usually the meats of choice. Simple flavourings of onion, garlic and herbs could be brought along with them as they migrate from one spot to another. The meat can be either roasted on the bottom of the oven with racks of veggies over it, or roasted on a rack above the veggies to get a crisper top to the large piece of meat.
This deep, golden and crispy exterior had me thinking of a burger. I wanted to give a depth of flavour that a slow roasted meat would give, so I decided to have part of the meat be already cooked. In this case, I used a slow braised chicken, finely chopped into some ground lamb. The addition of garlic and sage adds further earthy elements.
The traditional condiment at a Jordanian Zarb feast is Galayet Bandora. A gently roasted tomato-garlic sauce. Sounds like a perfect compliment to a burger to me!!

Jordanian Zarb Burger

For the Zarb Burger:
200g/8 oz ground lamb
100g/4 oz cooked chicken, chopped finely
1 large egg
2 tbsp dried sage
3-4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 tsp salt
For the Galayet Bandora (Jordanian Tomato Garlic Sauce):
2 medium tomatoes or 12-14 cherry tomatoes, halved
2 medium onions, peeled and sliced
1 jalapeño pepper, stemmed, seeded and sliced
4-5 cloves garlic, peeled
1/3 cup cold pressed oil (traditionally olive oil in Jordan but use the best quality cold pressed/extra virgin oil you can find. I used camelina oil)
1/2 tsp salt

To serve:
1 cup fresh parsley
2 tbsp rhubarb jelly (or other tart jelly)
2 tsp vinegar
Greek-style pita bread

Add the lamb, chicken, garlic, sage and egg to a medium bowl. Mix everything together with your fingers, squeezing the ingredients together until they bind to each other. Form into two large patties or four smaller patties.
Heat a cast iron pan over medium high heat. Add 1 tbsp oil. When the oil is smouldering but not smoking, season the patties lightly with salt and place in the cast iron pan. Griddle for 4-5 minutes per side or until deeply golden on both sides with a firm crust. Remove from the pan, drain on paper towels and prepare to serve.
To prepare the Galayet Bandora, preheat the oven to 190C/375F.
Place the tomatoes, cut side down, in a roasting pan. Scatter with onions, jalapeño and garlic. Drizzle with the oil and roast in the preheated oven for 20-30 minutes until softened but not browned. Transfer to a blender and purée until smooth. Season lightly with salt.
To serve, blend together the rhubarb jelly and vinegar into a basic dressing. Toss with the fresh parsley.
Cut two pitas in half making semi circles of the bread. On the cut pitas, spread it with a generous dollop of Galayet Bandora. Divide the dressed parsley salad over half of the sauced pitas. Add a griddled Zarb Burger to each parsley salad and top with the other half of the dressed pita. Serves 2 as a hearty meal or serves 4 as an appetizer “slider.”

garlicsagebraisedchicken

Garlic Sage Braised Chicken Legs

When I break down a whole chicken, I like to do various things with the component parts. I may roast the legs or the breast like I would a whole chicken. I may braise and broil the wings and toss in sauce like it’s Pub Night at Home. I may remove the bones from the breast, cut into strips and make chicken fingers. Or I may braise the legs to serve with mashed potatoes or on an open faced sandwich with the braising veggies and juices puréed into a gravy. Today, I wanted the typical flavours of a roast chicken, but in the super moist environment. Make lots because the leftovers are great on salads, pizza or many other recipes where you need cooked chicken!!

Garlic Sage Braised Chicken Legs

2 tsp oil
2 whole chicken legs (thigh and drumstick attached)
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped carrot
1/4 cup chopped parsnip
1 chopped and seeded jalapeño

10 cloves chopped garlic

1-1/4 cups water

1-2 bay leaves
2 Tbsp dried sage
1/2 tsp celery seeds

In a large, heavy bottomed pan over medium high heat, add the oil. When the oil is smouldering but not smoking add the chicken legs, skin side down. Sear for 4-6 minutes on one side until deeply golden. Flip and sear the other side for 3-4 minutes.
Add the onion, celery, carrots, parsnips and jalapeño. Stir and sauté for 3-4 minutes to soften the vegetables. Add the water, bay leaves, sage and celery seeds. Bring to a simmer, reduce heat to medium-medium low, cover with a lid and simmer for 60-90 minutes.     Check the braising every 20 minutes or so to ensure the liquid hasn’t evaporated, adding 1/4 cup water if necessary.
When the chicken is cooked and falling off the bone, transfer the chicken legs to a plate and keep warm. Remove the bay leaves and discard. Transfer the veggies and braising juices to a blender and purée until smooth. Serve the shredded chicken and blender gravy with mashed potatoes, rice or over thick bread as an open faced sandwich. Serves 2-3.