Recipe: Ottolenghi's roast chicken

INSPIRED: Roasted chicken with Jerusalem artichokes and lemon.
INSPIRED: Roasted chicken with Jerusalem artichokes and lemon.

There has been so much talk about the miraculous friendship and professional partnership of chefs Sami Tamimi and Yotam Ottolenghi - an Arab and a Jew both born in Jerusalem - that it's in danger of overshadowing the food that made them famous.

Their new book, Jerusalem, pays homage to the food of their shared home town - a true culinary melting pot of ingredients and styles. As Stuff's resident food blogger Jeremy Taylor says, it is a book both beautiful to look at and cook from.

While Ottolenghi's name is now synonymous with modern Middle Eastern food, he didn't start cooking until he was in his 20s and living in London. There, after studying at Le Cordon Bleu, he drew upon his mixed European heritage (his mother is German, his father is Italian) and began to transform cafe food. The Ottolenghi eateries (there are now four) became famous for their sumptuous window displays, communal tables with shared toasters for breakfast and vibrantly fresh, interesting food.

VISIONARY: Yotam Ottolenghi.
VISIONARY: Yotam Ottolenghi.

His first book, Ottolenghi, is based on favourite dishes from the cafes and the second, Plenty, was drawn from 'The New Vegetarian' columns he wrote for The Guardian. Jerusalem, he says, is his most personal book.

"The food of Jerusalem, what we experienced growing up, is all about abundance, about big flavours and piles in markets... it's big flavours, a lot of street food, it's lots of colours and it's very, very fresh.


"Jerusalem artichokes are well-loved in the city but have actually got nothing to do with it; not officially anyway. The name is a distortion of the Italian name (girasole articiocco) of this sunflower tuber, which has an artichoke-like flavour.

"The combination of saffron and whole lemon slices does not only make for a beautiful-looking dish, it goes exceptionally well with the nutty earthiness of the artichokes. This is easy to prepare . You just need to
plan ahead and leave it to marinate properly."

450g Jerusalem artichokes, peeled and cut into six lengthways (1.5cm thick wedges)

3 Tbsp lemon juice

8 chicken thighs, on the bone with the skin on, or a medium whole chicken, divided into four

12 banana shallots, peeled and halved lengthways

12 large garlic cloves, sliced

1 medium lemon, cut in half lengthways and then into very thin slices

1 tsp saffron threads

50ml olive oil

150ml cold water

1 ½ Tbsp pink peppercorns, slightly crushed

10g fresh thyme leaves

40g tarragon leaves, chopped

2 tsp salt

½ tsp black pepper

Put the Jerusalem artichokes in a medium saucepan, cover with plenty of water and add half the lemon juice. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 10-20 minutes, until tender but not soft. Drain and leave to cool.

Place the Jerusalem artichokes and all the remaining ingredients, excluding the remaining lemon juice and half of the tarragon, in a large mixing bowl and use your hands to mix everything together well. Cover and leave to marinate in the fridge overnight, or for at least two hours.

Preheat the oven to 240C/220C Fan/Gas Mark 9. Arrange the chicken pieces, skin-side up, in the centre of a roasting tin and spread the remaining ingredients around the chicken. Roast for 30 minutes. Cover the tin with foil and cook for a further 15 minutes.

At this point, the chicken should be completely cooked. Remove from the oven and add the reserved tarragon and lemon juice. Stir well, taste and add more salt if needed. Serve at once.

- Recipe extracted by kind permission from Jerusalem, by Sami Tamimi and Yotam Ottolenghi (Random House, $64.99).