My friend Leanne is a fabulous cook. Her food is adventurous, abundant and she rarely makes the same thing twice. As a strict vegetarian, she has been treating vegetables as the ‘star of the show’ long before that approach became a trend. The only downside to Leanne’s cooking is that her dishes are tough to replicate. She uses recipes as “loose suggestions” and is drawn to complex ones, at that.
This is why when Leanne mentioned an Ottolenghi recipe (I know I’ve lost some of you already–those who don’t recognize the name, as well as those who are familiar the chef’s intricate style) that her youngest, pickiest child devoured, I was not chomping at the bit. But if you know Leanne, then you know that without fail the next morning the recipe for Chicken with Potatoes, Prunes and Pomegranate Molasses was sitting in my in-box with a message stating that the molasses would be waiting in her milk box for my retrieval.
After converting Ottolenghi’s metric measurements to US standards and reading through the directions, I realized that this one-pot meal is actually quite straightforward and the ease of baking in the oven would appeal to many. The fact that this dish is perfect for the Passover table was icing on the flourless cake.
So this past Sunday, after spending the better part of the day freezing on the sidelines of two lacrosse games played up in Baltimore, I came home and prepped. No more than 20 minutes later, the dish was in the oven with a timer set for two hours, leaving me plenty of time for a nap in front of the Michigan State-Louisville basketball game. The final result yielded thumbs up all around the table. The rich, syrupy gravy was similar to a sophisticated barbecue sauce which is why I think it appeals to kids and grown-ups alike. The potatoes were perfectly cooked, firm and holding their shape yet yielding easily to the fork. And the chicken was moist and tender. I served it with some ciabatta bread for mopping up the delicious sauce and a crisp wedge salad with blue cheese dressing.
So pick up your pomegranate molasses (if you don’t have a friend leaving one for you outside their front door you can find it at Whole Foods or a similar store) and feel free to make this dish for the first time this Friday night if your celebrating Passover or next Friday night if you’re marking the end of Lent. It’s an easy crowd-pleaser that will allow you to focus on your attention on family and friends.
NOTE: It’s not easy to make a chicken casserole look gorgeous although I know that many food bloggers out there manage to pull it off. My only excuse here is that I spent the time preparing the meal and enjoying it at the family table. I promise that it tastes far better than it looks and one day I will focus on the photography.
- 8 chicken thighs
- 16 new potatoes, washed and halved
- 3 medium onions, peeled and quartered
- 1 cups pitted prunes
- 2 Tbls fresh ginger, grated
- 7 Tbls soy sauce
- 6 Tbls pomegranate molasses
- 1 Tbls maple syrup
- 1/3 c mango chutney
- 1 Tbls oregano
- 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- Heat the oven to 400F.
- Mix all the ingredients in a bowl, then pour into a large casserole dish. Cover with a lid (or thick foil), and bake for 10 minutes.
- Lower the heat to 350F, and cook for two hours longer, stirring every now and then.
- When the time is up, remove the dish from the oven, stir once more, cover and set aside for at least 15 minutes, to rest and allow the flavors to mingle.
- Serve with a nice green salad and some good bread to mop up the juices.