Chicken, eggs and lots of tomatoes? All fried together in a pan? What’s not to like? On the face of it, quite a lot. I can appreciate that the idea of gooey egg nestling in a bed of tart tomato sauce might not sound fantastically appealing, but wait a minute…
…add a red onion, pungent spices straight from the Moroccan souk like ras el hanout and sumac, a dash of brown sugar, salty crumbled feta, fat cherry tomatoes and tender minced chicken. Finish with a shower of chopped coriander and mint. There’s a real balancing act to this dish – it’s sweet, salty, tart, rich and spicy .
The recipe comes from Australian food writer and blogger Katrina Meynink’s book Kitchen Coquette, which won best first cook book at the Australia Gourmand Cookbook Awards in 2012. I spied the dish in last week’s Stylist magazine and cooked it this week for a quick, filling supper served with crushed new potatoes, simply because it sounded so delicious.
Looking at Katrina’s blog, the other crumb, many of her recipes are bold and punchy like this one. How does a Turkish delight and pistachio doughnut called a ‘Fonut’ sound? Or, chocolate molleux with malted milk caramel?
This Turkish eggs recipe appealed to me partly because I wanted to see how minced chicken meatballs would work out. So often I think chicken breasts end up at best bland, worst dry, but there was no way the spiced, diced and neatly browned chicken in this recipe was going to end up in that camp.
I actually chopped the two chicken breasts (500g costing £8) up nice and fine, rather than risking blitzing the meat into mush. The egg in the meatball mix acts to bind the meat and it’s useful to have a pair of tongs to gently turn the meatballs as they brown. Two large chicken breasts stretched to make enough for four people and, because of the abundant tomatoes, egg and feta, you don’t feel cheated of chicken. Oh, and it cooks in one pan, so less washing up.
My one tweak would be that I found the chicken doesn’t need so quite so long to cook as the recipe says. I’d actually brown the meatballs, take them out of the pan then return them to the pan only once the tomato sauce had reduced by half (as I’ve written below), rather than have them cooking in the pan all that time.
Welcome to Turkey (albeit on a warm English summer’s evening). Enjoy.
Turkish chicken with eggs
This recipe is enough to serve four people, or two people with enough for lunch the next day!
Ingredients for the meatballs
1 red onion, finely chopped
2 tsps ground coriander (ideally use the whole spice and grind)
2 tsps ras el hanout (a Moroccan spice blend)
2 tsps sumac
2 tsps ground cumin (again, the whole spice, ground fresh, is best)
2 garlic cloves, crushed
600g minced chicken (I found that 500g or two large chicken breasts was plenty)
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 tbsps olive oil
Ingredients for the sauce
1 red onion, finely chopped
400g tin crushed tomatoes
1 tbsp soft brown sugar
500g cherry tomatoes
200g feta, crumbled
Coriander leaves (handful)
Mint leaves (handful)
Crushed new potatoes or naan bread
Make the spiced chicken meatballs
Chop the chicken finely, almost as if you were chopping an onion. Place this, half the finely-chopped red onion, the crushed spices, garlic and egg in a bowl. Season then mix with your hands and roll into walnut-sized balls.
Fry off the meatballs and onion
Heat the oil and saute the rest of the onion until soft. Remove from the pan and place to one side then add the meatballs to the hot oil and brown all over. Take them out of the pan before they finish cooking.
Make the tomato sauce
Into the same pan, now return the fried onion along with the tin of tomatoes and brown sugar. Cook for about 10 minutes or until the sauce is reduced by half. Add the cherry tomatoes and chicken balls and cook until the cherry tomatoes soften and skins begin to split.
The final stars – the eggs, feta and herbs
Crack the eggs gently into the centre of the mixture – ideally you don’t want the yolks to burst, but no worries if they do. Cook for about three minutes or until the eggs are done to your liking. I found it helpful to nudge the area around the egg white gently as they cooked so it flowed into nooks and crannies and cooked more evenly. Scatter over the feta and herbs then carry the whole pan to the table.