Winter is coming here to Brisbane although if you look outside to the sunshine you could wonder when exactly this winter thing will happen. But there is a chill to the breeze which makes me want to wrap a blanket around my legs on the couch and cuddle up to something warm and comforting for dinner. My sister in law had the same idea for her dinner request as simple as 'Something warm!'. I couldn't help but agree. I have to admit I have default dishes. Things when I couldn't be bothered I just through together. The upside to this blog? No one wants to see that I made boiled eggs, chopped tomato and tinned tuna for dinner! :P Well you might but I'll leave that post for another time.
I googled around (googled is a verb now don't you know) and found some casseroles and other winter dish inspirations. Nothing though that I wanted to follow verbatim so this recipe is a little bit of ideas from other sources and some of me thrown in for fun. I call it Moroccan in the way soy sauce and noodles can be Asian. There are ingredients that are synonymous to a food culture we identify with but I in no way vouch for the authenticity of the ingredients here other than the herb and spice tube was labelled "Moroccan". If you are a purest please feel free to investigate and see how or what would be used for something authentic along the lines of this dish, or like me have some fun, call it what you wish and thank them for allowing you to create with restraint.
So the dish - essentially a roast chicken that was marinated and stuffed then torn up through a spiced bean casserole with a salad on the side. In can be vegetarian with the addition of some more root vegetables for heartyness if you so wish.
1 whole chicken (please use organic or free range for this dish)
1 mandarin (or lemon or orange, this was just in my fridge)
300 g rough chopped pumpkin
1 onion sliced
4 cloves garlic sliced
100 g semi dried tomatoes
1 tin baby tomatoes peeled
400g tin Bean mix (four, five, ten, whatever tickles your fancy)
1 tube Moroccan herb mix
1. Stuff and marinate chicken - remove chicken from wrapper and rinse (this just gets rid of stale juice/blood) pat dry and place on chopping board. Coat with oil and rub some of the spice mix over the front of the chicken. To stuff the chicken, roll the peeled mandarin (or orange or lemon) in more spice mix and stuff into chicken cavity. You can add any other herbs or garlic as you wish. The moisture from the fruit creates steam inside the chicken cavity which helps it cook inside and out.
2. Place in tray and surround with capsicum that has been halved and deseeded. Cover with foil and bake at 150 degrees for about two hours. It is a low slow heat to allow the chicken to remain moist and fall off the bone. If you like your chicken roasted another way by all means go ahead. The chicken is done when you prod the thigh joint and the juice runs clear.
3. For the casserole, pan fry the onion until softened, add the slice pumpkin and cook until coloured. This process creates a nice caramelisation to the pumpkin to add a little depth of flavour to the dish. If you have some leftover roasted root veg and chicken from the night before, this casserole can be a way to extend the leftovers and perk them up. Just add the cooked vegetables at the end as they will become too soft otherwise.
4. When the onion and pumpkin are coloured, add the garlic and allow to soften. Mix through some of the spice tube, add the tin of tomatoes, a tin of water, the semi dried tomatoes and the rinsed tin of beans.
5. Allow the mix to simmer on a low heat for an hour to develop the flavours. The tomato liquid will thicken and richen with the simmering. I used tinned baby tomatoes as they have a lovely flavour and their ripeness create a nice base to the sauce as opposed to watery unripe fresh tomatoes or plain chopped tinned tomatoes. You aren't using a lot of ingredients in this dish so ensure they are quality.
6. When the chicken is done, remove from the roasting dish and peel the capsicum. Chop the capsicum roughly and add to the bean mix with the juices from the roasting pan.
7. Season and grill the zucchini in long strips and arrange over some spinach leaves with some pieces of yoghurt cheese. Squeeze some lemon juice over as dressing.
8. Tear the chicken into pieces and serve over the finished bean casserole in a bowl with the salad on the side with some toasted sourdough or other dense bread.