All those who have been following this season of Masterchef Australia would know that the ‘Marco Pierre White’ week has just ended. Wow! What an experience it was watching the man himself.
Marco is a legend in the culinary world; often referred to as the Godfather of Modern Cuisine. But it was his wisdom, humility and greatness of character that touched me the most. There were many remarkable and wise one-liners or rather life-lessons that he gave the contestants during the entire week, some of which are truly inspiring and also that I have adopted or want to practice in my own personal life.
‘Never hide your tears’ – One of the most important lessons of life that I have picked up in my journey so far. All through my childhood, teens and early 20s, I tried excessively to hide my true feelings and put on a brave front for others’ sake. Even when I was down in the dump, I put on a brave smile and acted as if I am perfectly fine. There are many who called it ‘strength of character’ but I do not believe so. Today, much wiser, I would say it is better to let your family, friends and the larger world know your feelings. You don’t have to be a burden but neither do you have to be perfect. Just be human and let the tears show when it truly flows…
‘When you are down on the ground, stay there as long as you need but never let anyone else pick you up. Get up yourself!’ – If someone had told me this line 5 years back, I would have scoffed and made an excuse saying, it is easy to talk. But today, I totally stand by it. You become stronger when you get up yourself and then you won’t fall back to the ground, at least not for the same reason.
‘Success comes from arrogance but greatness comes from humility’ – And the line that sums it all. Humility and humbleness – the two traits that makes a person truly great. It is not an easy task, one that I struggle by. But also one that I try to practice every single day because at the end of my time here, I want to be remembered as a good person and not as a successful person.
Well, time to get back to today’s dish – braised chicken with spinach and pine nuts. Classic Meditteranean flavours!
What I loved most about this dish was the lightness and simplicity. It is an extremely easy dish to prepare and perfect for this season. The chicken pieces are juicy and succulent, the spinach not just adds flavour but increases the health quotient too, the pine nuts a bit of crunch texture and nutty flavour and finally the broth – indulgent, warm, comforting and packed with flavour.
Recipe Courtesy – Adapted from the Coles food magazine
1. 1 whole chicken – cut into 10 pieces
2. Olive oil – 2-3 tbsp
3. Red/brown onion – 1, finely sliced
4. Garlic – 3 cloves, crushed
5. Dried chilli flakes – 1 tbsp (I like the heat! But do adjust according to your preference)
6. Ripe red tomatoes – 2, diced
7. Chicken stock – 1 cup (I used homemade but you can use any type)
8. Saffron threads – a pinch
9. Cinnamon – 1 stick
10. Lemon peel – 1 tbsp
11. Baby spinach leaves – 100 gm
12. Pine nuts – 2-3 tbsp
13. Salt – to season
• Cut the chicken into pieces, wash and drain well.
• Heat oil in a pan and brown the chicken pieces on high heat in batches; keep aside.
• If necessary, add more oil and add the sliced onions to the same pan. Saute till golden brown.
• Add garlic, chilli flakes and stir through for another 30 seconds. Then add the tomatoes and cook till soft and pulpy.
• Add the stock, saffron, cinnamon and lemon peel; then add the chicken pieces and bring to boil. Season with salt if necessary.
• Turn down the heat and simmer for 45 minutes or till the chicken pieces are soft and tender.
• Meanwhile, toast the pine nuts and keep aside. (Take care to keep on low heat as these burn easily).
• Once the chicken is done, add the washed spinach leaves and stir through for another one minute and take off heat.
• Check seasoning and garnish with toasted pine nuts.
• Tuck in!