To my Best Friend

My dearest best friend came to stay this weekend with her new fiance, Chris, well he’s not that new but anyone who doesn’t share the same in-jokes of the last 15 years does seem new, unfortunately.

Jackie and I have been friends since she came to Wychwood from Hong Kong and proceeded to utter the now famous lines ‘Somebody has stolen my toothplace’.. We became inseparable over the course of 6th form and this was cemented during our Gap Year when we remained in Oxford whilst everyone moved away to university or pastures new. We’ve been through thousands of rows, many undesirable boyfriends and the occasional desirable one, jobs and house moves, stupid friends and heartbreaks, financial ruin, financial greatness and the almost a million meals at the Oriental Condor in Oxford (more another time..) and this is why she is my best friend.

She and Chris arrived at lunchtime and we wandered around to Kimos for lunch and to the Phil for an afternoon drink and then to Asda to get things for supper.. Jackie had ordered Mediterranean Chicken in advance and there aren’t many people left in England who haven’t eaten my Mediterranean Chicken at some time or another. It was hastily renamed Moroccan Jack Chicken several years ago by Jackie as the flavours are more of Morocco than perhaps the Med and because she dutifully thinks of it as her own. She once announced that it was the one dish that she would take to a desert island with her and that is one of the most complimentary things that someone can say about your cooking.

I am going to have difficulty getting this down into a written recipe because these days, I can make it with my eyes closed and I have so rarely given out the recipe, most of the time preferring to make the dish for people for them to oven cook themselves.

Mediterranean Chicken with Couscous..

serves about 6

  • 6 chicken breasts
  • 300ml of red wine vinegar
  • 100ml of olive oil
  • 200g of the best quality garlicky olives you can find (I like those stocked at Wells Stores!) (some whole/some chopped)
  • 100g of dried apricots (some whole/some chopped)
  • 100g of dried prunes (some whole/some chopped)
  • a large handful of torn fresh oregano
  • 3 cloves of crushed garlic
  • 200ml of a crispy fruity white wine
  • 100g of dark brown sugar
  • 500g couscous
  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees C.
  2. In a large bowl, add the vinegar and the olive oil. Throw in the garlic, the fruit, the olives and the herbs. Stir well. Add the chicken breasts ensuring they are submerged in the marinade. Try to marinade for as long as possible. Overnight is preferable but even an hour is better than nothing!
  3. After they have finished marinading, tip into a large lasagne dish ensuring the chicken is spread evenly throughout the dish so it cooks evenly. Pour over the marinade and the white wine. Top off with the brown sugar and cover with tin foil.
  4. After 40 minutes, remove the tin foil and place back in the oven for 2o minutes to brown.
  5. Add the couscous to a large glass bowl, when the chicken is ready remove from oven and instantly pour the hot liquid over the couscous. Cover with a plate for at least 4 minutes and fork through until fluffy and swollen.

I like to serve it fanned out on a huge white bowl with the couscous below and the fruit and remaining liquid poured over the top.

I think it’s absolutely delicious and should always be served with nice light salads. I shall post the recipe for the amazing chickpea, feta and red onion salad soon..

These are some lovely flowers Jackie bought for me. She really is a great friend…

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