Do you ever just thank God for the Ziplock bag? I do. I do it all the time.
Food that’s waiting for you in the fridge, from the seasoned depths of a Ziplock bag, means that something phenomenal is coming to the table and there’s very little work left to do once that bag is reopened. That’s my favourite kind of cooking.
As I said in a previous post, I’m trying my very, very best to keep the pre-recipe psychobabble to a minimum. I’m currently working on a writing project that is taking up a LOT of my writing and recipe testing energy, but a girl’s got to eat, and this was something that I made in between paces back and forth from my office to the kitchen. It was never intended to be jotted down in a written format let alone shared to my readers because I was literally just playing in the kitchen and had some chicken legs to use up, but I enjoyed it so much that I had to share.
The pickled lemons add such a piquant sweetness, that they’re almost unidentifiable as small, skin-on chunks of brined lemon. It’s a familiar yet strangely unique tasting addition, sharp, salty, sour and sweet all at the same time, and when combined with the rich, umami earthiness of olives, creates a ballast that you wouldn’t expect when two bolstering flavours like this combine.
You could make this without the olives if you wanted (ooh, some capers in the mix would be good by the way) but I really do urge you to try this with the pickled lemons. You can find a recipe – not that it’s really a recipe, it’s more of a treatment – here. If you didn’t have the good stroke of luck to have your lemons pickling in the fridge before you wanted to cook this recipe, just add the zest and juice of the lemon to the marinade Ziplock bag and call it a day.
Also, if you don’t have orzo, any small pasta would be fine, and what I would even recommend is getting some pasta that you do have free, just some odds and ends of the dried kind you probably have knocking around the cupboard, and bash it up in a Ziplock bag (again… saving the day) so that you have a small handful of pasta shards that will cook quickly in the tomatoes in the oven in place of the orzo.
2 chicken legs
1 onion – peeled and chopped
2 cloves garlic – grated or minced
100g green olives – chopped finely
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp Aleppo pepper or 1/4 tsp dried chilli flakes
4 tbs olive oil
1 x 400g can chopped tomatoes
2 tbs pickled lemon pieces – recipe here
80 – 100g orzo pasta (or other small pasta shapes)
Fresh parsley – to serve
- The night before you want to cook, put the chicken, onion, garlic, olives, paprika, cumin, Aleppo pepper or chilli flakes, and olive oil a Ziplock bag with some salt and pepper. Add 150ml of water from the tap, close the bag, and rustle everything together so that the chicken is coated and submerged. Leave this to marinate in the fridge overnight.
- When you’re ready to cook, preheat the oven to 200°C and take your chicken out of the fridge to come to room temperature.
- In a medium-sized baking dish, take the chicken out of the bag and lay skin side up. Pour the rest of the bag into the dish, in an even layer, around the chicken.
- Pour in the can of tomatoes, aiming around the chicken and not on top, and then fill the can up halfway with water from the tap and pour into the baking dish. The liquid should come halfway up the chicken with just a little meat peeking out through the vibrant red liquid.
- Drop the pickled lemons pieces around the chicken, and then add the baking dish to the hot oven for 40 minutes.
- After this time, remove the baking dish from the oven. You should see that the liquid is bubbling and the top of the chicken is starting to get brown and slightly crisp. Scatter the orzo pasta into the liquid around the chicken, and then put back into the oven for 20 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and by now, the pasta will be swollen and soft. Using a fork, fluff up the pasta in the pan to separate the grains. Cover with a tea towel and let the dish rest for 10 – 15 minutes before scattering with parsley and serving.