Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Mediterranean Cooking: Farareej Mashwi (Lebanese Lemon Chicken) and Glutton Cat: Warm Lentil Salad

I would say Middle Eastern food is a bit of a stretch for most people. In fact, most people probably didn't even know where the Middle East was until the Gulf War in 1990 (and most probably still don't). Well, shame on those people, because they sure know how to cook a fabulous grilled chicken in Lebanon.  And forget the fussiness of French lentils.  Lemon makes all the difference.

Farareej Mashwi (Lebanese Lemon Chicken)
From Mediterranean Cooking by Paula Wolfert

1 small chicken, quartered, skin on
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
4 large garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf Italian parsley

Sprinkle the chicken with salt and pepper. Combine garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, and parsley in a shallow dish. Roll chicken quarters in the mixture to coat, and then allow them to marinate in the dish for at least an hour.

Make sure the top oven rack is about seven inches from the coil in the top of the oven. Preheat the broiler. Cover a cookie sheet with foil and set a flat rack on top to keep the dripping fat away from the chicken. Spray the whole thing lightly with cooking spray. Drain the chicken, but reserve the marinade. Place the quarters skin side down on the rack, and broil for ten minutes. You must baste the chicken with the reserved marinade every 3 to 4 minutes. Turn the chicken over and broil for ten minutes longer, again, basting as you go. When the skin is nice and golden and crispy, it's done!

Makes 4 servings

Warm Lentil Salad
From Glutton Cat blog

1 cup dried green lentils
4 cups cool water
1 (3-inch) cinnamon stick
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 small yellow onion, chopped
2 to 3 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf Italian parsley
Juice of one lemon
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons cumin seeds
Feta cheese, crumbled (optional)

Soak the lentils in the four cups of water with the cinnamon stick and the bay leaf in a small pot for an hour. When the time's up, add the salt and turn on the burner. Bring the water to a boil. Turn down the heat, and simmer the lentils for about 15 minutes, or until soft. Drain any remaining water and dump the lentils into a serving bowl. Add the onion, parsley, lemon juice, turmeric, and ground cumin.

In a small saucepan, heat the olive oil and then add the cumin seeds. Toast them in the oil for a minute or two, and then pour both the oil and seeds over the lentils. Stir to combine. Add the feta right before serving.

Makes 4 to 6 servings

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