Last year, Yom Kippur was on the exact day of my husband’s 40th birthday. For us Jews, that coincidence was sort of a big honor, Yom Kippur being the most important day of the religious calendar. After a full 25 hours of faste (yes 25, not 24), the dinner that comes and breaks the faste is very traditional, and peculiar as well. Indeed – and to be honest I have no idea whether it is done likewise outside of France – we start dinner with a breakfast assortment of coffee, tea, cocoa milk, juice, pastries and biscuits. Then, when we are already very full, we get to a plethora of savory entrées. And when we finally are super full, we get to the main dish, that is Chickpeas Chicken Casserole. Nobody wants dessert after that, but my grandmother always suggests fresh fruits to make everything slide down our stomachs.
For that reason, my husband didn’t get a birthday cake and was very happy about that wise choice, even though he is someone who loves sweets. Nevertheless, I wanted him to blow off a couple of candles, so he made a wish over his beloved chickpeas chicken casserole, which was sort of funny for us, and very much “us” as well as we are not so much into too conventional acts (such as having a birthday cake for our birthdays). Besides, as this dish is only cooked once a year for this particular occasion, well it was a bit more special for us that time.
I take the opportunity of Yom Kippur 2019 to be the day after tomorrow to write here my own recipe of the chickpeas chicken casserole while I am now starting the preparation. There are several steps that can’t be done on the same days, and it does take a 48 hours plan to get it ready, even though there is no real difficulty in it, and each step does not take that long either. Also, you need to know that if you want to reproduce this recipe on another day that is not Yom Kippur, you could basically do it all in one single shot – but as we are not allowed to work on Yom Kippur, let alone cook, well we need a different organization.
I got the recipe from both:
- my grandmother who is a great cook (but the chickpeas chicken casserole is the only dish she doesn’t nail at all – and she doesn’t really know it although she’s been doing it for 65 years, hahaha !!!)
- my mother-in-law, who learnt it from her mother-in-law (but her recipe is either too oily or way too dry, and it cruelly lacks flavors and spices)
My recipe gets the best of both their recipes, and I add my personal touch to make the dish actually good to eat!!!
- 40 gr of chickpeas per person (250g for 6 pax)
- 1 piece of chicken thigh per person
- 2 small onions
- 2 garlic cloves
- a bit of oil and butter
- homemade spice mix: salt and pepper, 2 tbsp of cumin, , 1 tbsp of smoked paprika, 1 tbsp of Cayenne pepper flakes, 1 tsp or 1 tbsp of ginger to your liking.
- 10 medium range eggs
- If you use dry chickpeas, start the recipe 48 hours before serving time. Chickpeas need to be soaked in water with a bit of baking soda for a minimum of 12 hours. After that time, it is recommended to peel them (to prevent from suffering from any stomach gas trouble…). If the skin doesn’t come off easily, cook the chickpea one to two hours. That was what I was doing a couple of years ago…
- Now I use canned chickpeas. Open the can, peel the chickpeas, and rince them. That’s it ! And that doesn’t need to be done 48 hours before D-day, just 24 hours before is enough.
- Also 24 hours before serving time, get to the real work!
- Prepare the dry-rub (spice mix).
- Rub the chicken pieces by hand, and make sure that spices coat well the flesh and skin all over.
- Mince the onion and chop the garlic. On medium heat, start slow-frying the onion in a high-edge pan with a tbsp of olive oil and a tsp of butter. When they turn blond, add the garlic and make sure none of the two ingredients grill. Stir well and reserve aside. Do not clean the pan.
- Turn the heat up again, and put the chicken thighs in the same pan, skin-side down, with no added fat. Start grilling them and let the skin give out its natural fat. When the skin is well grilled, turn around each piece carefully and grill the other side. Take them out and reserve aside.
- Turn the heat to medium or low, put back the onion and garlic in the pan so that they finish melting in the chicken fat and spices.
- Put the chicken thighs back in the pan over the onion and garlic, pour a bit of hot water and put a lid on to finish cooking the chicken (10 minutes).
- Take out the chicken again, and pour the chickpeas. They’ll cook in this natural chicken stock with spices for an hour.
- In the meantime, skin the chicken thighs, take the bones out, and cut the chicken into bite size.
- When the chickpeas are ready, pour half of them in the bottom of a plexi dish, put some chicken pieces on top, and repeat with the rest of the ingredients.
- Pour the stock, about 2/3 of the height. Cover with a plastic film and reserve in the fridge until Yom Kippur’s night (the day after).
- On D-day, turn on the oven on 180 degrees Celsius, and immediately put the dish in, no pre-heating needed (because there’s no time for it, and the dish has always worked well this way anyhow, for decades!)
- In the meantime, start breaking the 10 eggs, and stir them well altogether in a large bowl.
- Get the dish out of the oven, pour the eggs over, and with a large spoon make sure the eggs are equally spread all over and down to the bottom.
- Bake in the oven for 45 to 60 minutes (that depends on the height of the plexi dish you use because the eggs will not cook at the same speed).
- After the first 20 minutes from now, put an aluminum foil over the dish.
- In case you notice the chickpeas chicken casserole is getting dry during baking, pour a bit of the last 1/3 of stock you may still have somewhere in your kitchen in the middle of all this mess!
- And ta-da!! Time to serve! And remember… you just had breakfast while the dish was being baked in the oven, and you stuffed yourself with more entrées right after the pastries… Good luck with that Chickpeas Chicken Casserole now!
Created and Written by Sophie Rebibo-Halimi. © 2019 All Rights Reserved.