Sunday, 16 June 2013

Moroccan Spice drumsticks with roast eggplant

Moroccan Spice drumsticks with roast eggplant

I must admit that I don't eat that much turkey outside of Christmas day- I probably should given it's low-fat, healthy, super juicy and tasty all at the same time! So when I found a pair of turkey legs on special at the local supermarket, I thought it would be a great time to get back into it.

I am also on a bit of a middle eastern spice kick at the moment, having been lent a few Ottolenghi books, and have discovered a great tv series on spices on SBS. All of these influences (along with having a great jar of preserved lemons to use up from my mum) contributed to this recipe.

Just a note: if you don't have turkey- try this with chicken legs- the spices will work just as well, and chicken is just a little bit juicer.

Before we get started on the turkey, start preparing the eggplant for baking. I have 3 small eggplant (aubergine) which I sliced down the middle. Sprinkle a little salt over these and leave them to sit for at least 20 minutes. While this doesn't seem like a necessary step- salting and drawing water out of the eggplant makes them roast so much better.

Onto the turkey marinade- start by making a little moroccan spice mixture called Ras el hanout. For the 2 Turkey drumsticks make up a mixture of 1/2 teaspoon of ground cumin, coriander, ginger, cinnamon, and black pepper.
Plus 1/4 teaspoon of salt, cayenne pepper, cloves and ground fennel seeds. 
As you can see, my fennel seeds are not ground up. Either way- mix it all in together.
Now to add some preserved lemon to the mix. I suppose if you really don't have any preserved lemon, you could just grate some lemon zest... but the flavour will be very different, and well preserved lemon zest is rather amazing. Sweet, salty, spicy and smooth all at the same time.
Take one lemon chunk out, throw away the pulp (it comes off really easily) and keep the skin. This is what we'll be dicing up. 
Once chopped up, add it to the spice mix. 
Add a little olive oil (1.5 tablespoons or so) to turn your spice mix into a marinade. 
Mix it all around to make a paste
Take your turkey drumsticks - or your chicken ones
Smear the marinade all over the turkey. Try to pull back the skin and slide some marinade next to the meat, before covering back up again. Place it in a baking dish with a little extra olive oil.
 By now some water will have risen out of the eggplant. Mop it up with some paper towel.
And place in a baking dish with your turkey .
I threw a few halved tomatoes into the pan too, for some added colour and health to dinner. Feel free to roast up as many other veges that will fit in the dish. 
Bake at 180 degrees c for 1 hour 20- 1 hour 30. I wasn't quite sure I believed that these would take such a long time, however sure enough (as the internet told me) I stuck a knife into them after an hour and there was still a lot of pink juice. So back in the oven for 20 minutes it went.
Chicken drumsticks should only take 45-50 minutes.
sweet baking spice and preserved lemon aromas filling the house
Here is the finished product - the spices have infiltrated the turkey meat, the cinnamon and preserved lemon keeps just a hint of sweetness. And the eggplant is beautiful and soft inside after such a slow cooking time.
 You could mix a little natural yoghurt with lemon juice if you would like a sauce to go with it! We ate it with some chutney.

Moroccan Spice Turkey with roast eggplant

2 Turkey drumsticks, or 6-8 chicken drumsticks
3 small eggplants
3 tomatoes (or other veges to roast)
extra olive oil for baking

Ras el hanout marinade:
1/2 teaspoon each of: ground cumin, coriander, ginger, cinnamon, and black pepper.
1/4 teaspoon each of: salt, cayenne pepper, gound cloves and ground fennel seeds.
1 preserved lemon rind- diced
1.5 tablespoons olive oil

1. Slice eggplants in half longways. Sprinkle salt on top and leave for at least 20 minutes for the water to come out of the eggplant. 
2. Make marinade by mixing all ingredients together.
3. Smear marinade all over Turkey drumsticks, including under the skin where possible. Leave to marinate if you have time. 
4. When ready to bake, splash a little olive oil in a large baking dish, arrange turkey legs in centre of dish.
5. Wipe the water off the eggplants with a paper towel, and place around the turkey. Chop tomatoes in half and place in dish.
6. Bake for 1 hour 20 minutes at 180 degrees c, or until no pink juices run from the legs when pierced.
7. Let the turkey sit for 10 minutes before serving.

Serves 3.

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