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How To Make The Delightful Aracena Chicken With Chickpeas







  • 1free-range, organic chicken, weighing approx. 2kg
  • 2 tbspextra virgin olive oil
  • 1onion, sliced
  • 1garlic clove, crushed
  • 2red peppers (capsicum), desseded and sliced
  • 2green peppers (capsicum), desseded and sliced
  • 6large tomatoes (dark red and very ripe) or 1 x 400g can of chopped tomatoes
  • pinch of granulated sugar
  • ½ tspsaffron
  • 1.2 Lhomemade chicken stock
  • 200 gchickpeas, soaked overnight and cooked in fresh water until fully tender or 2 x 400g cans chickpeas, drained
  • 2–3 tbspfreshly chopped marjoram
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • fresh coriander leaves

For the pilaf

  • 30 gbutter
  • 2 tbspfinely chopped onion or shallot
  • 400 glong-grain rice (preferably basmati)
  • 975 mlhomemade chicken stock
  • 2 tbspfreshly chopped herbs, such as parsley, thyme, chives (optional)

Cook’s notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


First joint the chicken, taking three pieces from the leg: 1 drumstick plus two pieces from the thigh. Divide the breast in two and detach the inner fillet: three pieces from the breast, two pieces from the wing.

Heat the olive oil in a sauté pan and sauté the chicken pieces for about 5 minutes in batches until golden on all sides. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper.

Add the onion and garlic to the pan, cover and sweat for 5–6 minutes until soft but not coloured. Add the peppers to the onion, toss, cover and continue to cook.

Meanwhile, peel the fresh tomatoes, if using – scald them in boiling water for 10 seconds, pour off the water and peel immediately. Slice the tomatoes and add to the pan, season with salt, freshly ground pepper and sugar.

Soak the saffron in a few tablespoons of warm chicken stock. Add the chicken to the base, then add the saffron and the remainder of the stock. Bring back to the boil and continue to cook, covered, over a gentle heat for 15–20 minutes. Add the drained chickpeas and lots of marjoram. Leave to bubble for a further 10–15 minutes or until fully cooked. Season to taste.

To make the pilaf rice, melt the butter in a casserole, add the finely chopped onion or shallot and sweat for 2–3 minutes. Add the rice and toss for a minute or two, just long enough for the grains to change colour. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper, add the chicken stock, cover and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to a minimum and then simmer on top of the stove or in the oven 160°C/320°F/gas mark 3 for about 10 minutes. By then the rice should be just cooked and all the water absorbed. Just before serving stir in the fresh herbs, if using. (Basmati rice cooks quite quickly; other types of rice may take up to 15 minutes.)

Serve in a large wide serving bowl or deep soup plates with rice and lots of coriander. Follow with a green salad.


Recipe from Grow Cook Nourish: A Kitchen Garden Companion in 500 Recipes by Darina Allen (Kylie Books, hb, $59.99).  Photography by Clare Winfield.


Written by How South Africa

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