With Ti Bishvat around the corner, I went looking for inspiration for a main course with relevant ingredients that touch on the seven species. All over Israel, you can find these wonderful little spice shops that have changed very little in the past 60 years, selling fresh spices and dry goods by weight, and the town I live in is no exception. I love walking into “The Shkeydiyah”, where my senses are overwhelmed with the strong aroma of a vast mixture of freshly ground spices, the large hessian sacks filled with all the legumes and pulses you could wish for, and the stand that’s filled to the brim with the most wonderful assortment of dried fruit.
Over the past years, the assortment of dried fruit in Israel has grown significantly. We finally get a lot of the naturally dried fruit that isn’t overly sweet and provides the enticing combination sweet and tangy. This is a great flavor for chicken. I love chicken with a tangy sweet sauce. So when I saw this wonderful array of dried fruit, I knew that they had to find their way into a chicken dish. To ensure that wonderful balance of sweet and sour, make sure you get the naturally dried apricots – in Israel, they’re the ones that don’t look bright orange and shiny, but rather are darker in color and actually look dry – and if you can, also get some dried cherries. Combining them with dried figs, dates and prunes makes for a wonderfully sweet and tangy sauce for your Tu Bishvat chicken. As the sauce cooks, it gets stickier, darker and richer, and makes a wonderful gravy.
CHICKEN WITH DRIED FRUIT
1 chicken cut into pieces
1 cup (or more) cut up dried fruit (naturally dried apricots, cherries, prunes, figs, dates and any other fruits you like)
1 onion chopped
100 g (4 oz) tomato paste
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons freshly chopped parsley
3 cloves of garlic crushed
1 cup chicken stock
How to do it
1. Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl and add the chicken pieces. Marinade for at least 6 hours or preferably overnight.
2. Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F)
3. Spray a roasting pan with non-stick spray and pour the chicken and sauce into the pan. Cover with foil and bake for half an hour.
4. Remove the foil and turn the heat down to 190°C (375°F) and bake for another 20 minutes. Check the breasts with a fork to – if they are done (not pink in the middle and the meat starts flaking), remove them and set aside. Turn the remaining pieces over and continue baking for another half an hour, turning once again in the middle, or until the meat is browned and cooked through.