Spicy chicken baked in mountain bread with spinach, chickpeas and pine nuts

Spicy chicken baked in mountain bread with spinach, chickpeas and pine nuts

By
From
New Middle Eastern Food
Serves
4
Photographer
Mark Roper

This dish, known as musukhan, is based on a Syrian Bedouin recipe, in which chickens are cooked on bread with lots of sumac and bitter wild greens. This version is a little more refined in its presentation. Serve with a big dollop of thick natural yoghurt.

Spicy chicken

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
4 chicken marylands, skin removed
2 garlic cloves, crushed with 1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
40ml olive oil
2 onions, finely grated
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 1/2 teaspoon ground sumac
3 bunches spinach, leaves blanched, squeezed and chopped
150g cooked chickpeas
300ml good-quality chicken stock
1/2 lemon, juiced
150g toasted pine nuts, roughly crushed
4 large square pieces of mountain bread
extra-virgin olive oil
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
edible violets, to garnish

Method

  1. Cut through the meat of the Marylands to expose the bones. This will help them cook more quickly. Mix together the garlic paste, spices and olive oil and rub all over the chicken. Leave in a cool place to marinate for 1–2 hours.
  2. Heat the oil in a large non-stick frying pan and sauté the onions and garlic until they are soft and the liquid has evaporated. Stir in the spices. Add the chopped spinach, then the chickpeas. Use a fork to lightly crush the chickpeas, then add half of the stock. Turn up the heat and boil until the stock has evaporated, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and add the lemon juice and pine nuts. Leave to cool, then refrigerate until needed.
  3. When ready to cook, preheat the oven to 180°C and line a large baking tray with baking paper. Lay the pieces of mountain bread out on a work surface. Spoon a dollop of spinach mixture onto the centre of each and place a chicken Maryland on top, flesh-side down. Fold in the sides and ends of the bread to create a neat rectangular parcel. Carefully turn the parcels upside down and arrange them on the baking tray. Transfer to the oven and bake for 30 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, tip the remaining spinach mixture into a pot with the remaining chicken stock. Add a splash of extra-virgin olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Cook for 10 minutes on a gentle heat.
  5. When ready to serve, divide the extra spinach between 4 serving plates. Sit a chicken parcel on top, seam side up, and serve straight away, garnished with violets.
Tags:
Malouf
Greg
Lucy
Middle
Eastern
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