TRYING OUT A NEW RECIPE: BRAISED CHICKEN WITH APRICOTS, LEMON AND SAFFRON
It’s time for something new. I saw this recipe in the City Kitchen by David Tanis column in the New York Times food section a few weeks ago. With all the roasting and grilling, I haven’t cooked chicken this way for many moons, or so it seems anyway. The recipe also provided the opportunity to try some different flavors and spices.
The verdict is beautiful color and terrific taste. What I really loved was the soft texture of the chicken, while still so full of flavor.
I made half a recipe. Here’s the prep and the ingredients I used. The recipe and more ideas are printed below.
I generously seasoned the chicken on both sides with kosher salt and pepper and let it sit an hour at room temperature before cooking. (I get such a kick that this is now called dry rub by some, even though cooks have done this since the beginning of time.)
4 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs went into a frying pan with a turn-in-the-pan of olive oil. I cooked these, skin-side down, for about 15 minutes over medium heat until well browned with crispy skin that lifted easily from the pan. Turn the thighs and cook two or three minutes more.
In a small cup I combined saffron with lemon juice and ¼ cup of water and set this aside.
The browned chicken went into a baking dish.
I poured off most of the fat and cooked the onions in about 2 tablespoons of fat, stirring some until softened and just beginning to brown. I used less onions than called for even for half a recipe, but enough for added flavor.
To the onions in the pan add the saffron water along with the threads, easy on the tomato puree, cayenne, coriander, fennel, cardamon pods and then added the wine. This mixture needs to simmer for a minute or two. Since these spices are mostly new to me, I used slightly less than half of what the recipe called for.
I poured this mixture, which is the most lovely and enticing color over the chicken. Then I tucked in apricots and lemon slices among or atop the chicken pieces. (When I opened the package of dried apricots I had on hand, they were black, so I used canned apricots, not as good I’m sure but pretty and flavorful.)
Cover the pan tightly and bake for 1 hour at 350 degrees.
Uncover and bake 10 minutes more.
The aromas were unfamiliar to me, but not at all unpleasant. The color unbelievably gorgeous! Oh, I said that before, didn’t I?
I planned to serve this chicken with a chiffonade of argula and did not trouble with the pine nuts, although I think they would be wonderful.
On the plate with arugula and rice. Yum!
The chicken was equally delicious the second day served with packaged herb chicken rice and other grains.
In the printed recipe below you can see other garnishes that are suggested.
Chicken with Apricots, Lemon and Saffron
6 large bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
salt and pepper
¼ teaspoon crumbled saffron threads
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
1 large onion, diced
½ cup tomato puree
pinch of cayenne
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 teaspoon green cardamom pods
1 cup white wine
6 ouches dried apricots
2 small lemons, thinly sliced
cilantro leaves and mint leaves for garnish
2 Tablespoons toasted pine nuts to finish.
There are so many ways to make this recipe your own: more tomato, thyme, mushrooms. Anyway you prepare it, this is a dish with complex flavors. And the prep is fast and easy!
You may wish to serve it with rice, orzo, or couscous.
This is a recipe I expect to save and prepare again. I know I wouldn’t need to mention it, but….even one bite of the skin on this chicken was heavenly. It’s possible that this recipe has turned this non-fan of chicken into a person that likes chicken again.