Immersive Ten Plagues Seder Menu: Plague 5 – Pestilence
Prep time: 20 mins | Marinating time: up to 12 hours | Cooking time: 2h 15 mins
Adapted from Yotam Ottolenghi’s ‘Simple’
We thought about lots of different ways we could represent pestilence. For us it’s all about the bones, as this really signifies the carcasses of the Egyptians’ livestock, their cattle and the animals which they looked upon as gods. We pondered the great theatricality of serving a rack of ‘dino’ beef ribs, but we also wanted to offer something that was easy to make and inexpensive–as we all know, Pesach can easily get out of control, cost-wise.
This is an adapted version of Ottolenghi’s Chicken Marbella, packed with Passover twists. Ottolenghi’s substitution of the more traditional prunes for dates is perfect for Pesach–most Sephardim and Mizrahim use date syrup or chopped dates for their charoset. In addition, dates and olives were two of the seven species named in the Torah as being special products of the Holy Land to which our ancestors made their exodus; the ‘land flowing with milk and honey’ was almost certainly referring to Silan, the date honey used in this recipe; and the red wine hints at the four cups we drink on Seder night. We make this delicious tray-bake all year round, but this adapted version we devised for Pesach was devoured by our taste-testing guests—leaving literally, just the bones.
Our vegan option swaps out the chicken for roasted Aubergines.
IN THE TRAY:
- 6 Chicken Leg/Thigh Quarters (Remember you want to see bones
in the dish)
- 1 medium Onion ribboned
- 2 Bell Peppers thinly sliced
(we used red and orange, use what you can—although we don’t recommend
green peppers for this dish)
- ½ tsp Salt
- 1 tbsp Olive Oil
(for base of the roasting dish)
- 225g (1 cup) Dates
(225g pre pitted or 210g pitted)
- 90g (½ cup) Pitted Green Olives
(one small jar, drained)
FOR THE MARINADE:
- 1 tsp Black Pepper
- 3 tbsp Olive Oil
- 3 tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar
- 3 tbsp Red Wine
- 10g (3 tbsp) picked Oregano Leaves (we used fresh, you can substitute with dry)
- 3g (1 tbsp) fresh Thyme Leaves
(we used fresh, you can substitute with dry)
- 2 heaped tbsp Silan (date syrup)
- In a blender, (or using a hand blender) combine all the marinade ingredients.
- Place chicken pieces in a bowl, pour over the marinade and refrigerate. In an ideal world you’d leave this for 12 hours or overnight, but we’ve made it straight away and we promise it is just as good!
- Preheat your oven to 200°C / 180°C fan (Gas Mark 6 / 400°F)
- In a big and deep ovenproof dish pour 1 tbsp of olive oil to grease.
- Layer in your onions and peppers, add ½ tsp salt and mix. Try to even out your vegetables on the base of the dish.
- Sprinkle in ⅔ of the olives and dates.
- Place the marinade-coated chicken on top and scatter the remaining olives and dates, pushing them into crevices between the chicken pieces. Pour over whatever marinade remains and seal the dish with foil.
- Place in the oven and cook for 1.5 hours. There will be a lot of liquid, so don’t worry–the chicken stays really moist.
- Remove foil and cook for a further 30-45 minutes to crisp up the skin.
Make a feature of the bones. Transfer to a large platter, carefully placing the chicken on top of the vegetables and dates, with the legs sticking up at sharp angles.
Can be made ahead and frozen, reheat thoroughly before serving. Leftovers from the reheat can be eaten cold the next day and can be tossed through a salad.
Photo credit: Sophy Weiss Photography