Yotam Ottolenghi’s name is synonymous with impeccably made food, whether it’s out of a cookbook or off a menu at one of his restaurants. Now, his latest gift to home cooks is a cookbook called “Simple.” But there’s more to the name than meets the eye.
When the British-Israeli chef stopped by KCRW, he told Evan Kleiman that “Simple” doubled as an acronym to help cooks decide what to make based on their own constraints:
S — Short on time: less than half an hour
I — Ingredients: 10 or fewer
M — Make ahead
P — Pantry-led
L — Lazy
E — Easier than you think
Many of the recipes check multiple boxes, giving cooks a better idea of how complicated or time-consuming these recipes will be. But the following recipe is marked with a bright green “M.” Ottolenghi suggests making the chicken in advance if you want to work ahead. It can be kept in the fridge for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 1 month. And if you aren’t interested in a bake, the chicken can be served as-is on top of rice, in a wrap, or with a buttery baked potato.
Slow-cooked chicken with a crisp corn crust
Yield: Six servings
3 Tbsp olive oil
2 medium-large red onions, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, crushed
3 Tbsp rose harissa (or 50 percent more or less, depending on variety)
2 tsp sweet smoked paprika
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken thighs (9 or 10 thighs)
Salt and black pepper
¾ cup plus 2 tbsp passata (tomato puree)
5 large tomatoes, quartered
1½ cups water
1 cup jarred roasted red peppers, drained and cut into ¾-inch thick rounds
½ oz dark chocolate (70% cacao)
1 cup cilantro, roughly chopped
5 Tbsp 70g unsalted butter, melted
Scant 4 cups corn kernels, fresh or frozen and defrosted (from 4 large ears corn)
3 Tbsp whole milk
3 eggs, yolks and whites separated
Build up sauce: Heat the oil in a large sauté pan with a lid over medium-high heat. Add the onions and fry for 8–9 minutes, stirring a few times, until caramelized and soft. Decrease the heat to medium and add the garlic, harissa, paprika, chicken, 1 tsp salt, and a good grind of black pepper. Cook for 5 minutes longer, stirring frequently, then add the tomato puree and tomatoes. Add the water, bring to a boil, then simmer over medium heat, covered, for 30 minutes, stirring every once in a while.
Add in additional ingredients: Add the peppers and chocolate and continue to simmer for 35–40 minutes, with the pan now uncovered, stirring frequently, until the sauce thickens and the chicken is falling apart. Remove from the heat and stir in the cilantro. If you are serving the chicken as it is (as a stew without the batter), it’s ready to serve (or freeze, once it has come to room temperature) at this stage. If you are making the corn crust, spoon the chicken into a ceramic baking dish—one with high sides that measures about 8 x 12 inches —and set aside.
Begin corn crust: Preheat the oven to 400°F.
Prepare batter: To make the batter, pour the butter into a blender with the corn, milk, egg yolks, and ¾ tsp salt. Blitz for a few seconds, to form a rough paste, then spoon into a large bowl. Place the egg whites in a separate clean bowl and whisk to form firm peaks. Fold these gently into the runny corn mixture until just combined, then pour the mix evenly over the chicken.
Bake: Bake for 35 minutes, until the top is golden brown. Keep an eye on it after 25 minutes to make sure the top is not taking on too much color; you might need to cover it with foil for the final 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside for 10 minutes before serving.