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Saffron chicken stew with jewelled rice, yogurt & spinach
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FOR THE SAFFRON CHICKEN
1 tbsp olive oil
2 chicken thighs (skin on and bone in)
1 cinnamon stick
2 tsp turmeric
1 pinch saffron
2 echalion shallots, peeled and halved
3 cloves garlic, crushed
4 Waitrose Baby Topped Carrots, scrubbed
200ml chicken stock
Juice and skin 1 orange
½ x 25g pack flat leaf parsley, chopped
2 tbsp dried rose petals
FOR THE RICE
175g basmati rice
½ tsp salt
2 large pinches saffron
50g sour cherries
Reserved peel from ½ orange, finely shredded (see above)
2 tbsp caster sugar
FOR THE SPINACH & YOGURT DIP
200g baby spinach
100g Greek yogurt
1 small clove garlic, puréed
1. For the saffron chicken, preheat the oven to 200°C, gas mark 6. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a flameproof casserole. Add the seasoned chicken thighs, skin side down, and the cinnamon stick. Once the skin is golden brown turn the chicken thighs over and add the turmeric and saffron, shallots, crushed garlic cloves and baby carrots. Pour in chicken stock and the juice of 1 orange. Bring to the boil, place a lid on top of the casserole and then put the dish into the preheated oven to cook for 50 minutes.
2. For the rice, place the rice in a sieve and run under cold water for 1 minute. Drain the rice, place it in a small pan and fill with water, covering the rice by an inch. Add the salt and 1 large pinch of saffron. Stir and bring to the boil, cooking for 5 minutes. Drain the rice in a colander and rinse again under cold water. Leave to drain. In the same pan melt half of the butter, using a pastry brush to coat the sides of the pan with it. Gently spoon the drained, part-cooked rice onto the melted butter and turn up the heat, cooking for 1 minute until steam begins to rise. Drizzle 30ml of cold water over the rice, place a lid on top and reduce the heat to a very low flame. Leave the rice to cook very gently for 1 hour. At the end of that time turn the heat to high and cook for one more minute. Remove from the heat.
3. Heat the remainder of the butter with the sour cherries, reserved shredded orange peel and the caster sugar in a small pan, frying for 3-4 minutes on a medium heat. In a pestle and mortar grind the remaining saffron strands and pour in 50ml of boiling water. Leave to infuse for 1 minute, then pour into the cherry mixture. Bring to the boil, then remove from the heat. Once the rice is cooked, pour over the cherries and their syrup.
4. For the spinach and yogurt dip, wash the baby spinach leaves in a colander and then place in a medium saucepan. Wilt the spinach on a medium heat. Once this has been done, drain in a colander, squeezing out the excess water. Combine the drained, cooked spinach, Greek yogurt and puréed garlic clove. Season with salt and pepper, and set aside in a small bowl.
5. Remove the casserole from the oven after 50 minutes and sprinkle over the parsley and rose petals.
6. Lightly shake the pan of rice, separating the crust from the bottom. Then gently tip the rice cake upside down onto a large serving plate. Spoon the chicken thigh meat, braised carrots and onions around the rice, as well as plenty of the juices from the pan. Serve with the spinach yogurt.
Typical values per serving: