I’ve often had to entertain large groups of friends and family who don’t want me spending time in the kitchen when they are around. And yet they expect, yes I do spoil the ones I love, a three or four course meal.
The first time I was asked to stay out of the kitchen, I freaked! My meats and accompaniments were not done, the dessert was in the oven, the drinks were flowing but the starters were still being assembled. Disaster. There I was scooping out pies and spooning out fillings into little tartlets even as I guzzled my own ice filled glass of the poison of the day! Though the evening, or rather early morning, ended up with everyone being fabulously drunk on food and spirits, I ticked myself off mentally. No more last-minute cooking for this group of friends.
So now I plan my meals for this group of 10.
And it does need plenty of planning.
For starters make sure your refrigerator is empty, I mean it. Secondly, make lists and plan the menu down to the last chocolate or coffee you are going to serve.
Next decide on a simple wholesome one-pot main dish, that needs little interference as it cooks. Even better if you can keep the entire dish ready and marinating a day prior. So here’s the one dish wonder that has been the talk of many a parties!
Preparation time: 20 minutes.
Pre-prep: 2 hours
Marinating time: from 2 hours to 24 hours, the longer the better
Cooking assembly: Cast iron pan, a must, and an oven that will cook at 100 degree C for at least 3 hours.
Cooking for 4 people
- 1 kg chicken, cleaned and cut into 12 pieces, soaked in salt water for 2 hours
- 250 grams potato
- 250 grams onion
- 250 grams carrots
- 100 grams green onion
- 8-10 prunes, dried
- 8-10 apricots, dried
- 1/2 apple, I prefer the acidity in Granny’s apple.
- 350 grams fresh orange juice
- 2 tablespoons dried thyme
- 2 tablespoons ginger-garlic paste
- 200 ml rum
- 2 tablespoons pomegranate pearls
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 2 tablespoons barbecue sauce
- Marinate the washed and cut chicken with ginger and garlic paste, barbecue sauce, salt, pepper and the thyme.
- In your cast iron pan, place the marinated chicken at the base. Then build on from there adding potatoes, apple, carrots, onions, prunes and apricots.
- In another pan reduce the fresh orange juice along with the rum, till the alcohol burns off and juice has thickened. If you do not have the time, add the juice and rum without reducing it, but reduce the quantities by half. This will result in a change in taste, but it’s yummy anyway.
- Pour the left over marinate over the layers and finally top with the reduced orange juice-rum concoction. Add the pomegranate pearls (optional).
- Cover the pan and marinate for at least 2 hours. If you can marinate it for 24 hours, place the pan in a refrigerator.
- Bring to room temperature before cooking.
- Place the pan in a pre-heated oven 100 degree C. And cook for 3 hours at the same temperature.
- When you are done, the chicken will fall of the bones. But the carrots and potato will still have a bite on them.
- The gravy can be reduced down or thickened as per your preference.
- To serve: Place the chicken towards one end, top with the vegetables and pour the sauce over it.
- Accompaniments: Baked potato, mashed potato, sauteed french beans in mustard, bacon jam and hard crust bread to soak up those lovely flavours.