The Taste of Brazil

Big Has' Turkish-style chicken and potato kebab. Show caption Big Has' Turkish-style chicken and potato kebab. Photograph: Ola O Smit/The Guardian. Food styling: Esther Clark. Prop styling: Anna Wilkins. Food assistant: Troy Willis.

Three dishes from the chef and YouTuber that are high on flavour and low on hassle: chicken and potato kebab, poached chicken and pasta, and cannelloni. Turkish spicy ketchup optional

Hasan Semay

Sat 25 Sep 2021 07.00 BST

One-pot (or one-pot-ish) cooking is one of the oldest and simplest cooking methods known to humankind – it’s one of the most user-friendly, too, and not just because it saves on heaps of washing-up. But simple doesn’t mean light on flavour, as I hope today’s dishes – two Turkish-Cypriot, the other Italian – will prove. Incidentally, I eat the first one with spicy Turkish ketchup, which might sound a bit rank, but it’s a sauce I grew up with and it really bangs with this dish, promise; it works on the patates kebab, too, but I’m not sure even I’d pour it on the cannelloni.

Patates kebab - chicken and potato kebab (pictured top)

Prep 10 min Cook 2 hr 45 min Serves 4-6

1.8kg whole chicken Olive oil Salt and pepper 1 bunch fresh thyme 800g round shallots, peeled 1.5kg cyprus potatoes, peeled and cut lengthways into quarters 500g romano (or corno) peppers 320g long green Turkish peppers 200ml vegetable oil 100g tomato puree The zest from 1 lemon 1 very big handful chopped parsley Thick yoghurt, to serve

Start off by breaking down the chicken. Cut off both legs, then separate the thighs and the drumsticks. Cut off each wing with a little breast attached. Cut out the back bone, then cut each breast into three equal pieces on the bone (the bone adds flavour and acts as a safety net to stop the bird drying out).

Put all the chicken pieces in a bowl, add a good glug of olive oil, season generously and throw in the bunch of thyme – don’t worry about marinating the bird or anything; just toss and dress it. Heat another good glug of olive oil in a heavy-based frying pan, then brown the chicken on all sides, but not on a super-high heat, or you’ll burn the thyme. Once the chicken is seared, transfer to a plate.

After that, it’s pretty much just stick everything in a tray. Put the whole peeled shallots and quartered potatoes in a large oven tray. Cut the romano peppers into three, remove and discard the stalks, pith and seeds, and add to the tray; the Turkish peppers can go in whole.

Pour in the vegetable oil and season heavily. Stir the tomato puree into three mugfuls of boiling water, then pour over the contents of the tray. Lay the seared chicken legs and thighs on top, then bake in a 180C (160C fan)/350F/gas 4 oven for two hours, so the potatoes suck up all the flavours. When the time is up, add the pieces of chicken breast to the tray – don’t mix them in or the potatoes will break up – turn up the heat to 230C (210C fan)/430F/gas 8, and cook for 15 minutes more, until the breasts are cooked through and the potatoes have gone crisp around the edges.

Remove and leave to rest for at least 10 minutes, otherwise it will 100% burn your entire mouth. Finish with a good glug of olive oil, a big handful of chopped parsley and a scattering of lemon zest. Serve with rice, a big dollop of yogurt and some nice bread.

  • UK readers: click to buy these ingredients from Ocado

Mak arna bulli – poached chicken and pasta

Big Has’ Turkish poached chicken and pasta. Photograph: Ola O Smit/The Guardian. Food styling: Esther Clark.

Prep 10 min Cook 55 min Serves 4-6

2-2½ litres good chicken stock Salt and black pepper 1 x 1.8kg chicken Olive oil, for frying 220g helim (AKA halloumi) 7g dried mint 500g zit i, or any other long pasta with a hole in the middle (or even penne, at a push) Chilli flakes or spicy Turkish ketchup, to serve (optional)

Bring the stock to a boil in a large pot, add two big pinches of salt, then drop in the chicken (if it’s not fully submerged, top up the pot with a little boiling water). Turn down to a bare simmer, and leave to poach gently for 25 minutes.

Lift out the chicken and put it in a large bowl to sit for 10 minutes. Once the chicken is not as hot as the sun and you can handle it, break it down, taking care to keep the skin on, because you’re going to crisp that up in a pan later. Cut off both legs, separate the thighs and drumsticks, then cut off the two breasts, ideally on the bone. The chicken will be ever so slightly undercooked and floppy at this stage, but trust me, you’re good.

Heat a glug of olive oil in a large frying pan set over a medium heat. Pat the chicken pieces dry with kitchen paper, season all over, then fry gently for about five minutes on both sides, until golden and crisp; this also gently finishes cooks them through. Transfer to a warm plate, and leave the excess fat in the pan, because you’ll use this to finish the pasta later.

Now for the pasta, which you’ll cook in the same pot of stock. Return the stock to a boil, taste and add enough salt to make it good and salty, just as you normally would for pasta water. Drop in the pasta and boil for eight minutes.

While the pasta is cooking, grate the helim into a bowl and mix in the dried mint.

Line up four bowls and spoon a little of the helim mix into the bottom of each. Carve each chicken breast into three or four pieces. When the pasta is cooked, lift it out of the stock with a slotted spoon or spider, and transfer to the frying pan with a good glug of the stock and a big splash of olive oil – the pasta needs to be hot when it meets the helim, so it melts. Give the pasta a good toss, so the oil and stock emulsify, then spoon it on top of the helim in the bowls and arrange the chicken on top or alongside. Scatter over the remaining helim, then pour over any liquor from the frying pan. Serve sprinkled with chilli flakes, or with spicy Turkish ketchup.

  • UK readers: click to buy these ingredients from Ocado


Big Has’ cannelloni.

Prep 15 min Cook 2 hr Serves 6-8

For the filling Salt and black pepper 1kg spinach 1kg ricotta 1 whole nutmeg, grated 110g parmesan, grated, plus lots extra to finish Zest of 1 lemon 36 cannelloni tubes 1 bunch fresh basil 240g mozzarella, sliced

For the sauce 100 ml olive oil 1 whole head garlic, cloves separated, peeled and sliced thin 5 x 400g tins whole plum tomatoes, drained

Bring a large pan of heavily salted water to a boil and have ready a bowl of iced water. Blanch the spinach for about two minutes, until it’s bright green, then drain and shock it in the iced water, to set the colour. Squeeze out the excess liquid from the spinach – you want it pretty dry, so it won’t loosen the ricotta – then cut it up finely: you want it evenly chopped, to fold it through the ricotta, with no large, uneven lumps. Put the spinach in a bowl with the ricotta, nutmeg, parmesan and lemon zest, then season, going a bit heavier with the pepper than usual.

For the tomato sauce, put the olive oil in a heavy-based frying pan on a low heat. Add the garlic to the cold oil and let the oil slowly creep up to temperature: essentially, you want to flavour the oil here, so the garlic runs through the whole sauce. Once the garlic is gently frying, leave it to cook for a good two minutes without taking on any colour: you want to cook all the flavour out of it without it taking on any of the bitterness it would get if it colours. Once it’s ready, you should be able to pinch the garlic in between your fingers and meet no resistance. Add the tomatoes, smash them up with a wooden spoon, then crank up the heat and bring to a boil. Drop the heat to low and leave to simmer for about an hour, until all the liquid is cooked off, and the sauce has reduced and turned a deep red.

While the tomatoes are cooking, stuff the cannelloni, which is easiest with a piping bag. Stick the nozzle of the bag about halfway into the pasta (I stand the tubes up on a plate), then squeeze and gently pull out the bag until the tube is filled. By the time you’ve piped them all, the tomato sauce should be pretty much good to go.

Use half the sauce to cover the base of a large baking tray, spreading it out nice and evenly. Lay the cannelloni in two or three straight rows on top (depending on the size of your dish), then pour over the rest of the sauce and tear in the whole bunch of basil. Pour 250ml boiling water into the tray – this is so the pasta can steam before it starts to colour up. Lay the slices of mozzarella over the cannelloni, cover the whole lot in loads of parmesan, and bake at 190C (170C fan)/375F/gas 5 for 45 minutes to an hour.

I like to serve this with a rocket, cherry tomato and balsamic vinegar salad, but it’s great on its own, too.

  • UK readers: click to buy these ingredients from Ocado

• Hasan Semay, AKA Big Has, is a London-based chef and YouTuber. His debut cookbook will be published in 2022













We will be in touch to remind you to contribute. Look out for a message in your inbox in November 2021. If you have any questions about contributing, please contact us.

  • Share on Facebook
  • Share on Twitter
  • Share via Email
  • Share on LinkedIn
  • Share on WhatsApp
  • Share on Messenger