Once again the cooks at I Heart Cooking Clubs have introduced me to a fabulous source of recipes. I hadn’t heard of Diana Henry. She’s a cookbook author and food writer for The Telegraph. I discovered when researching on Pinterest that many of her recipes are curated behind a paywall. Good for The Telegraph, not so good for me! She has a website with many lovely recipes to explore. One recipe that kept showing up in my Pinterest search was this incredible hot green relish served here with Turkish seasoned chicken thighs.
The recipe is from her 2015 book A Bird In Hand (affiliate link). Now, don’t get me wrong…this dish is fabulous! But I’ve decided to focus on the hot green relish because it’s too good to limit to chicken. Try it with seafood, tofu, or eggs, use it like chimichurri on beef, drizzle it over a plate of sliced sharp Manchego cheese, stir it into pasta like pesto, mix it with plain yogurt for a dip or dressing. I’m sure I could come up with more ways to use this amazing sauce if I think about it.
The original recipe calls for red and green chilis. I had to improvise as fresh chilis can be difficult to find. I started with one of those small (and HOT) red Asian chilis. I keep them in the freezer and dole them out one at a time. The green chili was a Spanish pepper called guindilla, a favorite from the Basque country. They’re sold in a mild brine and used for tapas. I debated adding a second red chili for more color but the two peppers combined with raw garlic made for a nice hot mix that was stimulating as opposed to overwhelming.
The use of cinnamon in seasoning blend for the chicken thighs sounds exotic, but it really goes well with meats (like this pot roast). I find too much cinnamon makes this type of blend gritty and musty tasting so, even if I ad lib the other measurements, the cinnamon is actually measured with a spoon. The recipe calls for boneless, skinless thighs. If you can find them, great. If not buy a pack of thighs and watch this video to learn how to do it yourself. It’s worthwhile to learn how.
The recipe from a cookbook review on John Whaite’s website advises using a mortar and pestle to make the hot green relish. With a large enough mortar it can be fun, but I’ve chosen to use a food processor.
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¾ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 large or 2 smaller garlic cloves, grated (I used the smallest holes on my box grater)
- olive oil to form a paste
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 6 boneless skinless chicken thighs
- 1 - 2 garlic cloves, chopped
- salt to taste
- 1 green chilli, seeded and chopped
- 1 red chilli, seeded and chopped
- 1 bunch cilantro, chopped, stems and all
- About ½ cup or more fresh mint leaves
- One large handful green olives, pitted and roughly chopped
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 - 3 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
- good squeeze of lemon juice, plus lemon wedges to serve
- Mix the seasonings for the chicken in the bottom of a bowl and add enough olive oil to form a paste, a quarter cup or less.
- Dredge the chicken thighs through the paste and use your fingers to coat the meat. Cover and refrigerate. Let the meat marinate for at least an hour. Bring to room temperature before cooking.
- While the chicken is warming up, make the relish by pulsing the salt and garlic together in a food processor.
- Add the chilis, cilantro, mint and olives. Pulse and use a spatula to clear the sides as needed. You want the relish to be chunky rather than pureed.
- Transfer to a bowl and add the most of the vinegar and olive oil, mixing and adding more vinegar or oil until the consistency seems right to you. Not too dry, but not loose either. Finish with a squeeze of lemon juice. Set aside.
- Cook the chicken however you like. I grilled mine on a grill pan that had been sprayed with a little olive oil, but if you'd rather pan fry or bake it, that's fine.
Be sure to hop over to I Heart Cooking Clubs for more wonderful recipes from Diana Henry. Although this is my first Diana Henry recipe, the group has cooked with her before. I’m looking forward to trying more of her recipes as I’m sure they have picked her very best to share!