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One of the things I loved about "quarantine cooking" was finding new ways to use the things I had in my pantry. Although cooking can become something of a chore (I am sure some of you readers agree with me!), it can also be a creative outlet, a space of experimentation and curiosity. Personally, I like that space to a fault and try to hold on to it! My son, Panos, used to always compliment my dishes but would say, "Can you make it again, exactly like you did this time?"...but I couldn't promise him I could, I was always playing around too much and rarely wrote things down!
Wanting to share recipes with our Artisans' products has given me a good discipline because it's forced me to take a few notes and capture my creativity. These past months I especially liked crossing over sweet and savory items, breaking the typical boundaries of an ingredient. With my daughter, Irini, I used one of Sparoza's cooking blends in my banana bread, even though it was originally developed for stewed meats (the kokkinistó dish we'd often have for Sunday lunch and which is in the product's Greek name).
Another product I played with was the Chian Tangerine Peel Spoon Sweet from Citrus. This is the traditional dessert on the island of Chios, a quintessentially Greek accompaniment to coffee, as you’re welcomed to someone’s home with a spoonful on a small plate. I wrote about this magical island and its rich history a couple of years ago - it's a place I love so much and where I've been spending all my summers for the last 30 years.
One summer, I ate a bean stew at a local restaurant that had used the tangerine to enhance what could have otherwise been a pretty bland dish. I loved the idea and remembered it when I was trying to find yet another chicken recipe during our shelter-in-place time. So I decided to use some of the tangerine peel, added a good dose of Sparoza's cooking blend (using it more as Sparoza's founder Efi had originally intended!), and threw in some chickpeas for good measure, for an extra dose of protein and fiber (we had a lot of those in the cupboard these past months!). Needless to say, the dish was a hit, sweet, tangy and spicy at the same time, and the chicken and chickpeas are complimentary enough to make it a healthy and hearty meal. Enjoy!
2 lbs chicken thighs (boneless, with or without skin)
4 tbsp flour
1 large onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup tangerine peel from Citrus Chian tangerine peel spoon sweet
2 cups stock or warm water
Salt & pepper
Preheat the oven to 350F.
Heat a dutch oven to high and add 2 tbsp olive oil.
Salt and pepper the chicken thighs and coat them with the flour.
Brown them in the olive oil for about 2 minutes, turn and brown the other side for a couple of minutes. You don't want to cook them through, just enough to give them a nice brown color and crust. You might need to brown them in two batches, depending on the size of your pot.
Lower the heat to medium add the onions, sautéeing until translucent. Add the garlic and the spices and sauté for 1-2 minutes more. Add the chickpeas, tangerine, and spices and give everything a good stir so that the flavors blend.
Add back the chicken with all the juices on the platter, placing the pieces in between the chickpeas and tangerine peels. Add the liquid, just enough to barely cover the chicken.
Put in the oven and bake for one and a half hours. After an hour, check the liquid and if necessary add a little more. When ready, let it cool for 10-15 minutes and enjoy!
PS If you don't have a dutch oven, use another deep pot with a lid that can go in the oven at 350F, or prepare everything in a non-stick deep pan, and then transfer to a pyrex or other dish, and cover with aluminum foil. You will have to adjust the cooking time and/or water accordingly. You can also try in your crockpot or slow-cooker!
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In this blog, we want to share with you stories of people and places and things that reflect zēlos, that Greek energy and enthusiasm that characterizes all we do. We hope you enjoy finding out more about this small, resilient, fascinating country and all it offers and inspires.
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