How about giving Sunday chicken wings? The recipe of Frédérick Ernestine Grasser Hermé, author with uppercut ideas in the kitchen (we owe him the chicken with coca), here renews the poultry genre. The syrupy and tangy sauce thanks to candied lemons reminds us how much our poultry goes hand in hand with citrus fruits. To be served with wheat semolina or pearl barley couscous, on the other hand, we don’t leave you the choice in the date: prefer the nour variety (translate “finger of light” in Arabic) to the medjoul, too sweet for this occasion. This is one of the trips on the plate of the book Oasis cuisine, eating the essentials (1), written in 8 hands after three weeks spent simmering in an oasis in Nefta, at the gates of the Tunisian Sahara. Emphasis is placed on the region’s flagship products: pomegranate, loquat, okra and date palm, one of the only fruit trees that can develop calmly in the infernal climate of the palm groves.
For 6 people: 1 chicken of 1.6 kg cut into pieces, 30 g of olive oil, 3 straw onions coarsely sliced, 2 cloves of garlic, grated, 150 g of mixed chilli olives, 5 g of salt , 5 g ground pepper, 10 g powdered turmeric, 5 g powdered cumin, 1 crumbled dry pepper, 4 small seedless salt-cured beldi lemons, 12 whole pitted dates, 10 g fresh coriander, 5 g sesame.
In a large pot, brown the pieces of chicken flat for 5 minutes in the oil. Once they are golden, remove them to a serving platter. Continue cooking in the cooking rissole with the onion, garlic, olives, stirring constantly. Return the chicken pieces. Salt, pepper and sprinkle the pieces of meat with turmeric.
Stir, add cumin, chilli. Stir constantly so that the spices coat the poultry. Pour hot water ¾ of the way up. Cover and let simmer over low heat. After 25 minutes, add the lemons and continue cooking over low heat. The sauce should be syrupy. Let simmer uncovered for 15 minutes. It’s time to add the dates split on one side, pitted but whole.
Arrange the chicken pieces in the bottom of a glazed earthenware dish. Spread the olives, lemons, dates and pour the syrupy juice on top. Put the lid on if you have one, or cover with aluminum foil. Bake at 170°C. Let stew for 15 minutes. When ready to serve, sprinkle coriander and sesame on the fly. Serve with semolina pearl barley or couscous.
(1) Oasis cuisine, eating the essentials by Frederick e. Grasser Hermé, Patrick El Ouarghi, Philippe Chapelet and Matali Crasset, photographs by Zarrouk Riad, Le Cherche midi editions, 2021, 28 euros.