This recipe is fast becoming a family favourite. As I write this, we have just had Mark’s childhood friend Steve and his wife Gill around to lunch along with my niece Jaks and her friend Kat. Its a great recipe to have up your sleeve as everything can be done in advance of the meal and simply heated through with some fresh garnish sprinkled on top at the last minute.
Mark and Steve have known each other since they were about 8 years old when Mark and his widowed mum went to live with Steve’s family. They had moved towns and were waiting for their own house to be completed. The boys became fast friends, lived together later as adults and now have been able to re-connect as life has more time and space in it again. There’s lots of “d’you remember when? and what was that song?” Along with tapping sides of noses in a knowing way and winks and nods at past escapades perhaps too risky for our ears. Its a lovely thing.
The Chicken with Apricots Dish – Serves 8
1.5 kg skinless boneless chicken thighs
150 g dried apricots
1 large onion roughly chopped
3 plump garlic cloves pressed
large bunch (25 g) coriander chopped (reserve some for garnish)
1 large green chilli finely chopped
thumb of fresh ginger grated
juice of half a lemon
4 tbsp olive oil
Heat the olive oil in a large wok or frying pan while you cut the thighs into 4 pieces each.
I’ve included the photo above to show what is meant by “browning the meat.” Often what happens is the oil/pan isn’t hot enough, then the meat releases some of its own fluids and next thing you know you’re actually boiling the meat and its surface remains the palest of the pale. The trick is to make sure your starting heat is smoking, then keep the number of bits of meat limited, and in between adding more to the pot, allow the liquid that is in there to heat up and burn off anything watery. So…..you’ve guessed it. The first thing to do is to brown the meat.
While you are browning the meat, get on with chopping everything else.
When all the pieces of chicken are browned nicely, add everything to the pan and stir until it is completely mixed. Allow to simmer gently until the chicken is well cooked through. This should probably only be about 15 minutes more, but thighs are really quite forgiving and won’t dry out like breasts do.
I have also made this dish with the addition of 2 medium carrots chopped in which works really well, both from the visual and the taste point of view. See photo below.
As you can see, I served ours with plain steamed English asparagus topped with butter and shaved fresh parmesan and quinoa and red rice salad.