The Goddess was out and about today in search of yarn. That’s right. She doesn’t live by cooking alone! Anyway, she was planning on have lunch at Torange. And sadness…they’ve closed. They were such lovely people and the food was wonderful. They were even nice enough to sell her sumac and barberry, which, if you aren’t familiar with either of these, you need to find them and start using them. So, in memory of Torange, she decided to make this chicken. Torange served some wonderful lamb kabobs, but in general, their food was simple, with clean, pure flavors. Delicious! Any who, I used some of the barberries and sumac I had purchased from them. Sumac, which we’ve talked about before, isn’t the stuff that grows in road ditches. It’s commonly called “poison sumac” for a reason. That stuff can kill you. Or at the very least, make you so sick you might wish you could die, so don’t decide to dry some, okay? No, no, no. The edible sumac is Rhus typhina, also known as “staghorn sumac”. Some people use this sumac to make “lemonade”, and of course, it would be pink lemonade, as sumac has an almost puckery, lemony flavor. I prefer to sprinkle sumac over salads, fish and chicken, or add it to vinaigrettes or aïolis (it will color it pink-ish). Barberries (different varieties of Berberis) are small, dried sweet and sour berries. They remind me a bit of currants, which will work as a substitute. Make no mistake though, they do not have the same flavor profile. They offer a sharp flavor and vibrant color, which can accentuate many dishes and a nice balance to sumac. They are also great added to a rice pilaf, which you might find in the Iranian version of pilaf.
As I mentioned, I was pretty bummed that Torange had closed, so it was a pretty easy decision as to what I was going to do. There were chicken thighs sitting in the fridge, just waiting to be seasoned and cooked. I deboned them, plopped them into a bowl, and seasoned them with the allspice, garlic, oil, sumac and salt and pepper. Then I massaged them to an ecstatic state, and chilled them for a few hours. You could absolutely do this in a plastic bag and leave them overnight; they may even be better. When I was ready to bake them, I place the thighs, boned-side-up on a foil line baking sheet. Sprinkle with a bit of salt and lay a piece of scallion, summer squash, where the bone had been. I rolled them up and placed them cut-side-down in the pan. Tuck some of the orange slices and lemon slices around the thighs and give another good sprinkle of sumac over each thigh. Pop the pan in the oven and bake until done. Okay, these are a just a bit more “done” than The Goddess wanted, but there was wine and conversation with The Latin Lover, and well…. I put them in a 425°F oven, which I realized too late, was too hot for the citrus. I made the correction in the recipe. I made a Saffron-Scented Rice Pilaf with Barberries, green beans with mint and I think I mentioned, wine!
Citrus-Roasted Persian Chicken Thighs
This is a simple dish, but it is best served with basmati rice.
- 6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
- 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1 teaspoon finely chopped garlic
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 3-4 large pinches sumac (available at Middle Eastern markets)
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 3 scallions, cut in half lengthwise and crosswise
- 1 small summer squash, cut into 6 fingers
- 2 Meyers lemons, very thinly sliced and seeded
- 1 small orange, very thinly sliced and seeded
- Sumac, as needed
- Persian Saffron-Scented Rice Pilaf or Perfect Rice
Plop the thighs in a bowl. Sprinkle with the allspice, garlic, oil, sumac and salt and pepper. Then massage the seasoning into the thighs; chill until needed. You can drop them in a plastic bag, seal and chill overnight.
When you’re ready to bake them, preheat the oven to 375°F. Place the thighs, boned-side-up on a foil-lined baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt; lay a piece of scallion and summer squash, in the center where the bone has been. Roll up and place each thigh, cut-side-down on the baking sheet. Evenly tuck the orange and lemon slices around the thighs. Sprinkle a bit of sumac over each thigh. Pop the pan in the oven and bake until done (180° internal temperature), about 30 minutes. If the oven temperature is too high, the citrus may burn. Remove the pan from the oven, serve. This is very good with rice and green beans with mint.
Citrus-Roasted Persian Chicken Thighs Recipe©Marcia Lahens 2018. All rights reserved.