A dish that looks like a million flavors

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Presentation is half the cooking, invest in nice plates which enhance the appearance of a simple dish.
Presentation is half the cooking, invest in nice plates which enhance the appearance of a simple dish.

LONDON: Do you ever wonder how to become an entertainment maven when it comes to organizing private dinner parties?
There are some of us who just go to the market, grab everything that looks good, have a talent to arrange and season everything on a beautiful plate and when it is ready they actually relax and have fun at their own dinner party. Then, if you lucky enough to live in France or Italy, you can relay on your traiteur or delicatessen next door and let him take care of the cooking.

But if neither of these good thoughts come close to you, I want to tell you what I am up for when I am in the mood to cook for some friends at my house. I mostly cook the same dish and it is a kind of Persian-inspired baby chicken, stuffed with yoghurt and fresh herbs on a bed of basmati rice with wild, roasted asparagus. It looks as if I have spent all day preparing it, but in fact it is easy to prepare and while the chicken is baking in the oven you can freshen up your make-up, decorate the table and prepare a snapchat movie on how to get ready for dinner. So let me tell you:

ALL YOU NEED:

  • organic baby chicken, one for each person
  • accordingly some yoghurt, enough so you can stuff the little tummy of the chicken with it
  • fresh mixture of herbs (mint, tarragon, rosemary, sage, mint) and chopped spring onions
  • salt, pepper, turmeric & curry (half a TS for each chicken)
  • Virgin olive oil, fresh lemon juice (1 lemon per chicken)
  • Basmati rice
  • Gee
  • Wild, organic and green asparagus

HOW YOU DO IT:
First you have to chop all the herbs and mix them with the yoghurt and some olive oil as well as the turmeric & curry, salt & pepper. Stuff the chicken’s tummy with the yoghurt marinade. Once all chickens are stuffed, sprinkle them with olive oil, salt and pepper, lemon and some remaining herbs. Put them in a large casserole at 170 degree Celsius and let them roast for about one hour (check on it from time to time to turn sides).
Meanwhile, wash and rinse the rice, put it in a big pot of boiling water and let it cook until just done. Rinse well and put some Gee on the base of the pot with some salt & pepper, put the rice on top, lower the heat to 2 and put a towel around the lid of the pot so the steam leaves the rice soft and tasty.

Now rinse the asparagus, cut off the lower ends and fry them briefly in a pan with some olive oil until just golden brown. Season with salt and pepper and some lemon juice. When everything is done, reduce the heat of the oven and leave the asparagus to cool down in the pan. Now dinner is ready, but it can wait as long as you and your guests are ready with the aperitif.

The chicken won’t be dry because it is kept moist from inside with the fresh yoghurt and crunchy from the outside. The steaming rice will be fine because the towel around the lid will keep it fluffy and not overcooked unless you forget to reduce the heat. You have the option of warming up the asparagus before   you put everything together on a nice big plate, maybe sprinkle with some herbs or caramelized dried blackberries.

Everyone will think you have spent hours in the kitchen. And once everything is arranged, your guests can simply help themselves. Voilà!

IRMA’S TIP: You don’t have to prepare a special starter. I just put lots of delicious olives, capers, nuts and vegetable chips which I buy at good quality on the table together with the aperitif.

By the way, dessert should not be a lot of work either. Just buy the best vanilla ice cream in town, arrange it on a beautiful plate and top it either with dark chocolate bits and bites, berries or nuts and dried fruit depending on the season.

IRMA travels the world, writes and illustrates the life she lives.

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