It is not yet Christmas day and I have had about six Christmas dinners already. Outrageous, isn’t it but I am in the cooking game and this is what we do each December in the lead up to Christmas day with the beautiful people who walk through the doors of Relish Mama. If our reward for a good years work is six Christmas dinners, then I am a pretty happy lady. I adore Christmas. I have a very good male friend who lovingly (I hope) refers to me as the patriot saint of Christmas ; yes I am one of those annoying people and he is the scrooge (self proclaimed) who curses everyone for making the roads so ‘friggin’ busy this time of year and “why does everyone have to be soooooo damn happy”! I love him & he love me – it works!.
Although this is a recipe for a stunning spiced chicken salad, I have made it quite a few times recently using roasted left over turkey and it is absolutely divine. The original recipe (calling for spiced chicken, as is here) is from a wonderful man called Guy Mirabella. Guy is an artist. His food is visually stunning and does not ever disappoint when it comes to flavour. Guy teaches cooking classes at our school. Guests come for the food and for the incredibly beautiful presentation but I think they very much come for Guy himself. Guy is also a wonderful story teller and a class with him is more than special.
Last month Guy taught a ‘stunning salads’ class at Relish Mama. This spiced chicken salad was one of my personal favourites and we have been enjoying it often as a family. This one here I have made to share with friends this afternoon for a pre Christmas catch up that I am sure will go down wonderfully with a glass of champagne to toast good food with good friends and to a very Merry Christmas. I have been enjoying it also lately with a little left over turkey (in lieu of cooking the chicken) and I urge you to do the same. Guy’s food always hits the mark and it might just help you with a little fridge space post Christmas and help do the right thing environmentally with some awesome inspiration using left overs.
Spiced chicken (or turkey) salad
250 ml olive oil
4 free-range chicken breasts, skin off
zest and juice 1 lemon
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 Spanish onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 teaspoon fennel seeds, ground in a mortar pestle
1 teaspoon cumin seeds, ground in a mortar pestle
1 teaspoon coriander, ground in a mortar and pestle
1 teaspoon tumeric
1 teaspoon cinnamon
pinch of dried chilli flakes
1/2 cup honey
200 grams French beans, trimmed, blanched for 4 minutes, refresh in iced water, drain
200 grams green peas (fresh or frozen), blanch for 30 seconds, refresh in iced water, drain
50 grams baby red chard leaves or micro leaves
Snowpea tendrils (optional & if you can get your hands on some but a perfectly good salad without)
Juice of 1 orange
1 teaspoon nigella seeds
extra virgin olive oil
Put the chicken breasts in a bowl and add the lemon zest and juice and half the oil. Season with salt and pepper and rub the mixture into the meat. Marinate in the refrigerator for about an hour.
Preheat the oven to 200°C. Heat the grill of a barbecue or a chargrill pan and cook the chicken until charred on both sides. transfer to a tray and roast in the oven for 15-20 minutes or until cooked through. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool to room temperature.
Meanwhile, heat remaining oil in a frying pan and gently cook the onion until translucent add the garlic, ground fennel, cumin, coriander seeds, tumeric, cinnamon and chilli flakes and gently cook for about 3 minutes. Add the honey and stir through. Set aside.
Shred the chicken meat with your fingers (this really does make a difference). Put into a mixing bowl and pour over the spice mix. Mix well. Add all the beans, snow peas, peas and baby red chard leaves and gently stir twice up and over. Don’t over stir.
Place onto a serving platter. Pour over the orange juice and drizzle with a little extra virgin olive oil.
Add the nigella seeds and serve.