Remember those Moroccan preserved lemons from a few months back? They turned out very nicely indeed – salty, zingy skins infused with the scents of the spices in the jar. One of the spices I used in the preserved lemons was cardamom, and I’ve used more in this dish; along with the lemons and some flowery olive oil, it lifts and brightens the flavour of this chicken dish. Pure sunshine in a bowl – and that’s just what I feel like in dismal October. Be sure when choosing your ingredients that you use an olive oil with a good flavour.
I’ve used a box of the tiny fillets (sometimes called chicken tenders) you’ll find to one side of a chicken breast here. They’re a very easy piece of meat to work with if you’re in a hurry – no skinning or chopping necessary. To serve two, you’ll need:
450g chicken fillet pieces
3 tablespoons polenta or cornmeal
8 cardamom pods
1 preserved lemon
4 tablespoons good extra-virgin olive oil
1 handful parsley, chopped
Salt and pepper
Start by scraping the pulp out of the inside of the preserved lemon (the pulp of these is too salty to eat). Dice the skin and pour over three tablespoons of the olive oil, then set aside while you prepare the rest of the meal.
Slice the shallots very finely and put them in a large bowl with the chicken. Bash the cardamom pods lightly in a mortar and pestle to crack their tough skins, then use the back of a teaspoon or a fingernail to get all the seeds out. Discard the empty pods and crush the seeds in the mortar and pestle. Mix the cardamom seeds, polenta and some salt and pepper, then sprinkle evenly over the chicken and shallots and mix well.
Heat the remaining tablespoon of olive oil in a large sauté pan over a high flame. Tip in all the chicken mixture and sauté until crisp and brown. Remove the chicken and crispy shallots to a clean bowl and pour over the lemon and oil mixture and some parsley, tossing like a salad to mix. Serve immediately.