North African spiced chicken


    4 chicken breasts (skin removed)

    50g maldon salt

    1 litre water

    4 bay leaves

    3 garlic cloves

    handful of thyme

    handful of rosemary

    1 tsp black peppercorns

    1 lemon (juice and 2 strips of rind)

    1 orange (juice and 2 strips of rind)

    large drizzle of honey (or 20g granulated sugar)

    1 lemon for zest (and juice)

    large pinch of saffron

    6 garlic cloves

    1 tsp cumin seeds

    1 tsp fennel seeds

    1/2 tsp caraway seeds

    2.5cm piece cinnamon stick

    1/4 tsp black peppercorns

    1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

    1 dried chipotle chilli

    3 tbsp rapeseed oil

    1 tsp salt

    100g large black grapes

    handful chopped coriander

    mesclun lettuce

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Main serves 1

Brining solutions are great for injecting more flavour and moisture into chicken (and turkey – a great idea for Christmas!), so if you are normally put off by dry chicken breast, this is the method for you. If you cook your chicken en papillote (fully wrapped in parchment) too, it helps seal in all that moisture and flavour.

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If you are brining the chicken, place all the brine ingredients together in a pan and bring to a boil to dissolve the salt and sugar, and then allow to cool in a fridge. Place the chicken pieces in the brine and leave to infuse overnight.


Meanwhile, make the paste. Put the lemon juice in a small saucepan with the saffron and simmer gently for 2-3 minutes to bleed the saffron, then allow to cool. Add all the remaining ingredients, with the lemon juice and saffron, to a liquidiser and blitz to a smooth paste.


The next day, remove the chicken breasts from the brine mix and pat dry. Heat up a chargrill plate and seal the chicken breasts briefly on both sides.


Preheat the oven to 170C/325F/gas mark 3.


Rub the paste into the sealed breast pieces and place them on a large square of parchment, big enough to cover and wrap right around the chicken. Place in the oven for 25 minutes, or until cooked through at the thickest part.


Meanwhile, place the black grapes on an oven tray lined with parchment and roast in the oven for the same time as the chicken, until their skins start to wrinkle and burst.


Serve the chicken warm or cold, sprinkled with the coriander, alongside the roasted grapes and salad leaves.

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