Honey & Co Cookbook has Arrived - Chicken Musakhan

There is something exciting happening today.  It is the official release date for the long awaited Honey & Co cookbook.  Long awaited for me at least, as for the past couple of years I have been frequenting, along with many others, Sarit Packer and Itamar Srulovich’s cozy establishment, Honey & Co.

I know, whenever I walk through the door on Warren Street, that there will be no escape from either the temptation of Sarit’s cakes as a sneaky mid morning snack, or rolling out of the door in a most satiated manner on the evenings that they manage to squeeze us in for dinner.  (One almost has to beg, borrow and steal for a reservation these days.)

I first met Itamar and Sarit 6 years ago, when I was just a few weeks away from delivering my youngest son.  They catered my mother's 60th birthday party for me, and it is the only time I have seen Itamar (who is one of the most laid back people I have ever met) stressed.  I think he was worried I was going to deliver right there and then on my kitchen floor.  Luckily for him, I held out for a couple more weeks.

And then, a few months ago while having a quiet dinner chez Honey with my better half, Itamar snuck a “first glimpse” of sample recipes from their book into my bag for me to try.  And try I did.  Every single one of them.  What an honour! I was instantly converted to making my own pita (instead of buying it in sweaty packets), and I could start to make some of their delicately flavoured comfort food at home.

So, after a (not so) patient wait for the finished article, the book finally made it into my hands last Sunday afternoon. That night, with the house quiet, I made some tea and read the whole thing cover to cover.  It reads superbly, with stories and anecdotes that made me chuckle out loud.

And each beautifully photographed page is more tempting than the next, totally encapsulating Sarit and Itamar’s enthusiasm and total love of food. Their recipes are a perfect solution for the family meal, or feasts with friends.  It almost feels like they are in the kitchen with you, guiding you through the process, whispering directions in your ear as you make their dishes.

In the meantime, we are having Musakhan for dinner tonight.

Slow cooked chicken thighs with onions, currants and pomegranate molasses, shredded and wrapped in flatbreads.  How can that possibly be rejected by my children who don’t react well to “new” foods?  And I can guarantee you that tomorrow night we will also be feasting on another meal from the book.

So now, the only question that remains to be answered, is when are Salt Yard Books planning to release the baking book?  We all need the recipe for the Fig Orange and Cardamon Loaf that I make a special detour for on a more frequent basis then I should publicly ever admit.

Musakhan (Chicken with Onions, Currants and Pomegranate Molasses)From Honey & Co. Food From the Middle East by Sarit Packer & Itamar Srulovich

Serves 4 generously as a main course (somehow I forgot to photograph the salad that they serve with it, but I have included it with the recipe!)

For the filling 8 chicken thighs with skin and bones 1tsp + 1tsp salt

3 large onions, peeled and thinly sliced

1 whole dried chilli

100g (3.5oz) dried currants

80g (3oz) pomegranate molasses

240ml (8.5fl oz) water

For the parcel 1 packet thin Lebanese flat bread or tortilla wraps a little olive oil for brushing

For the salad

2 small red onions, peeled and sliced as thinly as possible

1 tsp sumac (or juice of 1 lemon)

seeds from 1 pomegranate

1 large bunch of parsley

pinch of salt

1 tbsp olive oil

Preheat oven to 200C / 400F

Put a large heavy bottomed skillet on medium heat.  Place chicken thighs skin side down in the pan and season with 1tsp salt. 

Cook them slowly cook and render the fat from the skin (10-15 minutes) until skin is crisp and golden.  Flip over and cook another 5 minutes.  Remove to a large roasting pan.

Add onions and remaining teaspoon of salt to the skillet and cook on a medium heat until the onions start to soften and colour.  Add the dried chilli, currants and pomegranate molasses and mix.  Pour over the chicken (or I put the chicken pieces back into my le creuset which has a tight fitting lid), and add the water.  Cover and cook for 1 hour.

Allow chicken to cool enough to handle and shred the meat from the bone into bite-sized pieces.  Sarit and Itamar like to keep bits of the skin in the mixture, but I did not.  Discard the chilli and return the meat to the roasted onion mixture and stir to combine.

Place a flatbread wrap in a soup bowl, leaving lots of overhang.  Fill the bread with a quarter of the filling, then fold the edges on top to seal like a package.  Flip bowl onto lined baking tray and repeat with 3 more wraps.  Brush with a little olive oil and place in a 200C /400F oven for 10-15 minutes until crisp and golden.

Mix salad ingredients together in a bowl.  Serve alongside wraps.