food with sam mannering
She’s not old enough to eat it – yet – but this special little girl was the most adorable person present when we tested the recipe.
I’ll forever have Wellington cook and food writer Adie McClelland’s sage advice in my head: “Think about the accompaniment more than you do the protein.” Indeed.
It’s my eternal habit to marinate something and throw it in the fridge, to be forgotten about until at least the next day. I don’t like that preserved lemon is often pigeonholed in people’s minds with things like anchovy as one of those “too strong” flavours – it is, in fact, a wonderfully versatile ingredient, especially as a marinade with something subtle like chicken or white fish because it imbues everything with a gutsy, fragrant deliciousness. Just make sure that you chop it as finely as you can – it means that it will go further. The purists may howl, but what I have here are most of the ideas you associate with a tagine; except in sort of salad form.
And while I think of it, try making some aioli and folding in some finely chopped preserved lemon. It is beyond superb.
If you’re curious about the recipe’s title, wee Molly – who, at 6 weeks old, had little to do with the preparation of this dish as I tested it one evening with her parents – was by far the most laid-back, patient and, arguably, the cutest member of the table, so I name it for her.
MOLLY’S MOROCCAN-ISH SALAD WITH CHICKEN THIGHS, PRESERVED LEMON AND PEARL BARLEY
Prep time: 20 mins Cook time: 35 mins Serves: 6 800g chicken thighs, boned 2 tsp cumin seeds 1 tsp coriander seeds Large handful of coriander, roughly chopped 1 tbsp preserved lemon, finely chopped Olive oil Black pepper 5 or 6 small carrots, quartered lengthways 2 cups of pearl barley 3 fresh radishes, thinly sliced 1 head of kale or similar, roughly chopped 3 tbsp pumpkin seeds, toasted 1 tbsp sesame seeds, toasted Sea salt In a mixing bowl, combine the chicken thighs with the cumin, coriander seeds, half the fresh coriander, a generous seasoning of pepper (you won’t need salt, the lemon is salty enough) and several tablespoons of olive oil. Cover and leave in the fridge to marinade for at least a couple of hours; overnight is even better.
An hour before you want to serve the salad, preheat the oven to 200C on fan bake.
Wash the pearl barley and then add to a saucepan with plenty of water. Bring to a simmer and cook over a medium heat for about 20 minutes or until it is tender. Drain, rinse and toss in a little olive oil. In the meantime, arrange the marinated chicken thighs and quartered carrots over an oiled roasting tray, drizzle over the liquid from the marinade and a little more olive oil over the top, and roast everything quickly in the preheated oven for about 35 minutes until the chicken is well cooked and everything is nicely caramelised on the outside. Remove and let it rest for several minutes. In the meantime, fold together the pearl barley with the chopped kale, radish and toasted seeds. Taste and season accordingly. Fold in the chicken and carrot, with the remaining chopped coriander, and serve.