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Not “Jerusalem” Saffron Chicken and Herb Salad

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We’re having a long hot summer. When the mercury is climbing toward, and often past 40C (104F), I try and avoid increasing the heat in the house by preparing ahead, stocking up with fresh herbs and salad leaves so I can serve interesting salads.

I poached a chicken in master stock in preparation for the last blast. An organic chicken of around 2 kg cooked this way will feed two of us for three meals and leave us with a couple of litres of beautiful stock with which to make pho when the temperature drops.

It goes against the grain for me to jump on the popularist bandwagon, but having received three Ottalenghi books as gifts for Christmas, they were my starting point for inspiration for dinner. From the outset I’ll apologise to Yotam and Sami for not following the original recipe from “Jerusalem” closely at least for the first time, but guys, my inner demons egged me on.

The dressing was stunning despite my minor changes. I substituted the fennel bulb with rocket and chives as the recipe suggested, then added some toasted fennel seed to provide that irresistible aniseed flavour. My basil had wilted so I omitted that, I used an already cut lime for juice instead of lemon and added some carrot julienne for substance. The “Jerusalem” recipe included charred chicken breasts, a kilo for six serves, but I had 400g of poached meat for 2 people. I didn’t adjust the stipulated volume of herbs and salad greens and the quantity was just enough to two as a stand alone meal. If you were serving bread and have dessert planned too, these quantities might just feed four small appetites.

We enjoyed our refreshing salad enormously. While the saffron in the dressing provided a rich golden hue, the heady flavour was totally overwhelmed by the orange so I felt the cost of adding saffron in this instance was not justified. I guess it pays it’s way by lending an exotic name to this delicious salad.

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1 orange
50g maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon saffron threads
1 tablespoon champagne vinegar
300mls water
400g cold cooked chicken
50g rocket
15g picked coriander leaves
15g picked mint leaves
15g snipped chives
1 medium carrot cut into fine julienned
1 teaspoon fennel seed, toasted and coarsely ground
Fresh lime juice
Olive oil
1 small clove garlic, finely chopped
1 generous teaspoon sea salt flakes
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 red chilli finely sliced

1 Wash the orange and cut it into eighths.
2 Put the orange sections, maple syrup, saffron, vinegar and water into a small pot.
3 Bring the pot to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer uncovered for 1 hour. You should end up with the cooked orange segments in roughly 3 tablespoons of thick syrup.
4 Purée the oranges and syrup until smooth, then aside
5 Tear the chicken into large bite sized pieces, set aside.
6 Pick the herbs then wash and gently dry the leaves.
7 Combine the garlic, oil and lime juice in a small bowl.
8 Put the chicken in a large bowl and dress it with half of the orange purée.*
9 Add the herbs, carrots and fennel seed to the chicken, then toss in the vinaigrette.
10 Season generously with salt flakes and ground pepper.
11 Transfer the salad to a serving platter and garnish with the sliced chilli.
Serves 2 as a complete meal

* the remainder of the dressing will freeze for future use

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About ladyredspecs

I live in sunny Brisbane, Australia. My love of good food drives me as a cook, a reader, a traveller, an artist and but mostly as an eater. I cooked professionally for many years but have no formal training. Simply guided by a love of eating good food, respect for ingredients and an abhorrence of artificial additives, I cook instinctively applying the technical know how acquired by experience. I hope you enjoy what I share Sandra AKA ladyredspecs

23 comments on “Not “Jerusalem” Saffron Chicken and Herb Salad

  1. marymtf
    March 1, 2014

    Champagne vinegar? That’s a first for me. The most exotic vinegar I know is balsamic. I learn so much from your ;posts. As for Ottolengnhi, I’ve only recently heard of him. Now I hear about him or read abut him everywhere. I suggest that you will never get through three of his books and you might want to share one with a fellow blogger. 🙂

    Like

    • ladyredspecs
      March 1, 2014

      You know it is with books Mary, some you like you have on your shelves to look at occasionally for inspiration, while others become best friends due to mutual respect and co operation. Sadly after a dabble in these three books, I think we have little in common and are probably doomed to be mere casual acquaintances. A couple more dinner dates before I reach the ultimate decision. Vinegar can be made with anything that ferments, champagne is my summer fave!

      Like

  2. saucygander
    February 27, 2014

    I was looking forward to the end of summer, during the heat wave. But now that summer is actually ending, I find myself missing it already! Oh well. This salad looks and sounds lovely, and not just in summer. After reading your thoughts I might omit the saffron and save it for another dish though…

    Like

    • ladyredspecs
      February 27, 2014

      Yeah, save your dollars, it will still be good without the saffron!

      Like

  3. Eha
    February 27, 2014

    What a delightful salad very much in the Ottolenghi style to my way of thinking: love the amount of herbs you have used. I have had ‘Jerusalem’ for quite a few months now and all the recipes attempted have turned out to my taste. Altho’ I have quite a necessary ‘moratorium’ in place re more cookery books, methinks ‘Plenty’ is next in line: too many good cooks have praised!

    Like

    • ladyredspecs
      February 27, 2014

      Wonderful, wonderful ideas in Plenty, fab combinations of ingredients, but alas flavours are disappointing. I thought at first they were aiming for subtlety, but I’ve decided they are just insipid. Take it as a given that you need to exercise some control, and you’ll he a happy Ottolenghi fan.

      Like

      • Eha
        February 28, 2014

        You may very well be right . . . but ‘tweaking’ is fun. I guess I have already done that with some of the ‘Jerusalem’ recipes also!!

        Like

  4. Fae's Twist & Tango
    February 27, 2014

    This is not just a salad. It is a whole culinary techniques and some, all by itself. Iranians are big users of saffron, and we never use this much saffron for any dish. We grind saffron (in a dedicated coffee grinder or by mortar-n-pestle) just the stigmas or with a little pinch of sugar, to extend Its usage.

    Like

    • ladyredspecs
      February 27, 2014

      I know saffron needs to be paired with the appropriate ingredients and the cost dictates that it be used sparingly. I made an expensive mistake, I should have known better! Having said all that the dressing was wonderful!

      Like

  5. StefanGourmet
    February 27, 2014

    Nice salad! PS I got ‘only’ one Ottolenghi book for X-mas 😉

    Like

    • ladyredspecs
      February 27, 2014

      Have you cooked from your Ottolenghi book yet? I’m finding the ideas good, but for me, flavours and textures definitely need tweaking.

      Like

      • StefanGourmet
        February 27, 2014

        I’ve *just* posted the first and only recipe I’ve cooked so far. I have to actually try the recipes to know for sure, but from reading them they don’t seem to be ‘my style’. The eggplant with buttermilk sauce was nice, though.

        Like

  6. chef mimi
    February 27, 2014

    I’ve resisted those cookbooks, but I might have to relent and buy the damn books!

    Like

    • ladyredspecs
      February 27, 2014

      Treat yourself Mimi, they are inspirational, but IMO treat the recipes merely as ideas. A few have disappointed.

      Like

  7. Butter, Basil and Breadcrumbs
    February 26, 2014

    This looks absolutely delicious.. I had to chuckle, because I can never stay true to a recipe either! Whether it’s because I don’t have the ingredient, or I’m not a fan of the called ingredient.
    I’ve been eyeing up the Ottalenghi cookbooks, and have saved them in my Amazon wish list.. I just might have to buy one after seeing this gorgeous salad.
    I do have to look up “rocket” to see what that is! 🙂
    Lovely post..

    Like

    • ladyredspecs
      February 26, 2014

      Thanks! Oh sorry rocket is aragula! There is plenty of WOW factor in the Ottolenghi books, great inspiration.

      Like

  8. Transplanted Cook
    February 26, 2014

    I’m glad you resisted jumping on the bandwagon! I use most of my cookbooks for inspiration and rarely follow the recipes to the letter. brava! This looks like a winner of a salad.

    Like

    • ladyredspecs
      February 26, 2014

      Thanks Deb, it’s a lovely fresh combo! I want new book to excite and inspire me, and they do, but often the recipes themselves are a letdown. Am I becoming jaded?

      Like

  9. Francesca
    February 26, 2014

    This looks delicious. I have to Ottolenghi cookbooks and I am yet to follow them to the letter. I think they act as inspiration for creativity. I am relating to the long, hot summer bit- Melbourne has become so outrageously hot. But I can smell Autumn in the air so that stock will serve you well.

    Like

    • ladyredspecs
      February 26, 2014

      Ahh autumn, bring it on!! I agree, books are for inspiration, but I go through that self doubt thing and think I shouldn’t fiddle with the recipes. I always do it my way though in the end. To be truthful, it’s a long time since I’ve felt so excited by a new recipe that I haven’t altered it at all.

      Like

  10. lapetitecasserole
    February 26, 2014

    May I say that I did a big effort to continue reading your post after the first sentence ” We’re having a long hot summer” since we’re having a long cold winter, but I’m glad I went on reading, your salad had to be really really good!

    Like

    • ladyredspecs
      February 26, 2014

      Didn’t intend to rub summer into your winter wounds! I’m no lover of the heat and will welcome the change of seasons. It was a good salad

      Like

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