What a great, easy meal for a family! Loved it, even though in my haste to serve it up I forgot to put the cinnamon and icing sugar on it, and toss over some more currants and nuts. Sometimes, I am sure I am turning into my mother!
I was all excited about using some preserved lemons my sister had given me a while ago for this recipe, however when I went to use them, I found that the top had gone mouldy, so I had to forget the preserved lemon this time. It’s a dish I’ll definitely be making again, I think it would make a great picnic dish as well, so once the warm weather returns, it will definitely be on the must make list.
The serving size was just right – we had it as a main meal and it served 4 perfectly. I served it up with a non thermomix spinach, semi dried tomato and Persian Fetta salad, and it was lovely.
Here are my tips:
Use good chicken stock to cook the rice. The flavour of the rice is all important in this dish, so if you have home made chicken stock that tastes great, use it! I didn’t, and used the old Campbell’s Real Stock. The result was good, but I don’t think you can beat real chicken stock. (And, believe it or not, I’ve never made the chicken stock that’s in one of the Thermomix recipe books – I promise I will one day, I just get phobic around chicken going bad somehow and fear poisoning my family and friends) I am not usually a fan of dried fruit in savoury recipes, but this really impressed me – the amount of currants wasn’t overpowering, and were just the right size. Personally, I think currants are about as big as you’d want to go, although I am considering using chopped up dried cranberries next time.
Dani is right when she says the method of shredding chicken in the thermomix that she describes is the best. I usually detest shredding chicken, it either takes me an age or I do it too quickly and it looks revolting. The method she uses, putting the steamed chicken in the thermomix bowl, and blitzing for 5 seconds on reverse/speed 4 is just so easy, and gives a great, consistent result. I am a big chicken fan, poisoning phobia not withstanding, and I think you could actually use more chicken in this recipe, although you’d probably have to do two lots of chicken steaming, as the 3 chicken thighs cut into three pieces each go a long way in terms of covering up holes in the varoma basket.
Seasoning is all important in this dish, so make sure you taste, taste and taste again to get the seasoning right.
I used two kinds of nuts – just because they are what I already had in the pantry and already opened. They were almonds (which I blanched and slivered) and pistachios.
I always get a little nervous working with filo pastry. I was only able to get the frozen stuff – not my first option usually, and it can be a bit difficult to work with, as I find it dries out super quickly. Make sure you have your melted butter ready to go as soon as you’ve unrolled the filo. I didn’t used the recommended 50 grams of butter – I just melted a little ramekin of butter I already had in the fridge, and I don’t think it was enough, as my end result looked a little anaemic, and i would have preferred it to be a little more toasty brown.
I used a regular large kitchen bowl from our dinner set as the mould for the pilaf. It was a nice shape and held the amount cooked perfectly – pure luck on my part! The bowl is 20.5 cm wide and 6 cm deep if that helps.
I chose to leave the topping sheets of filo ragged rather than tucked in. To make it look more attractive next time, I’ll skew each of the topping sheets a little to make it look more ragged, and not just like a few sheets of film plopped on as a lid. Presentation fail for me!
Another tip would be to cook it on an oven-proof presentation platter, rather than a baking tray. If you used baking paper, you can tear it off around the edges before serving it up. It would make life much easier than transferring it to a nicer looking platter!
After 10 minutes of cooking, when you take the bowl/mould off the pilaf, it’s pretty easy to do. Just make sure you use oven gloves, or tongs. Next time, I might also take the opportunity to put some more butter on it, just to make it brown up a little more.
And, of course – don’t forget the final garnish with the cinnamon, icing sugar and extra nuts and currants!!