I love one-dish meals that involve little effort but taste as though you slaved away for hours.
Apart from the chicken marinating time, this aromatic pilaf will be on the table in under 30 minutes, provided you have all the ingredients lined up first – something I recommend doing anyway.
If you have any leftovers, heat them through gently with a drizzle of cream stirred in – it keeps everything nice and moist.
The chicken can be marinated for 1-24 hours but bring it to room temp before grilling. I prefer boneless, skinless thigh meat over chicken breast as it’s more succulent and has more flavor but you can use either.
The olives I recommend using are the pitted Castelvetrano variety from Sicily due to their rich, buttery quality.
CHICKEN PILAF WITH CINNAMON, LEMON, OLIVES & ALMONDS
14 oz (400g) of boneless, skinless chicken thighs
4 heaped tablespoons of plain yogurt (not fat-free)
2 cloves of garlic, finely minced
1 1/2 teaspoons of ground cinnamon, separated
The finely grated zest of 1 lemon and 2 teaspoons of lemon juice
1 oz (30g) of unsalted butter
2 shallots, minced
7 oz (200g) of basmati rice
1 teaspoon of salt
12 fl oz (350ml) of organic chicken stock
4 oz (115g) of pitted green olives, rinsed and drained
A small handful of fresh cilantro (coriander), chopped
1 oz (30g) of flaked almonds, lightly toasted
In a large bowl, whisk together the yogurt, 1 teaspoon of lemon juice, minced garlic, and 1 teaspoon of the cinnamon. Add the chicken thighs and give them a good stir to coat well. Set aside for 30 minutes at room temp, or refrigerate covered for up to 24 hrs but bring them back to room temp before cooking.
To cook the chicken, grill/broil for 5 minutes each side until golden brown in patches and cooked through. Set aside covered with foil while you cook the rice.
Preheat the oven to 350F /180C. (it should already be hot enough from the grill).
In a wide ovenproof skillet or heavy casserole with a lid, heat the butter until foaming and saute the minced shallot until soft and translucent, then add the rice and give it a good stir to coat each grain, followed by the salt, lemon zest, 1 teaspoon of lemon juice and the remaining half teaspoon of cinnamon. Add the stock, bring it to a boil then put the lid on and stick it in the oven for 15 minutes.
Remove the rice from the oven and stir in the olives and chopped cilantro. Set aside, covered while you chop the chicken into smallish chunks, then fold them through the rice.
Serve immediately with a squeeze of lemon on the side and a green vegetable, or not.