Spring is here. I think. Last week was a little chilly. Anyway, as the weather warms up, people start to steer in the other direction as far as eating goes: more grilled food, lighter salads, less heavy starches and so forth. One of my all time favorite foods is braised meats, any and all types: short ribs, spare ribs, chicken thighs, pork shoulder, etc. Spring menus tend to be much lighter, more refreshing and don’t really lend themselves to heavy braised dishes. Pot roast and 80 degree temperatures don’t go so well together. But there are always exceptions.
One recipe that comes to mind is a North African inspired braised chicken featuring some authentic Tunisian products that we now carry at The Chopping Block. It is a much lighter dish, with fresh flavors and incredibly simple to make.
Tunisian Braised Chicken
4 chicken leg quarters
1 Tablespoon ground cumin
1 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1 medium onion, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
¼ cup dried apricots
1 stick cinnamon
3-4 cups low sodium chicken stock
1 medium carrot, diced
1 medium parsnip, diced
1 medium sweet potato, diced
1-2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
lemon juice to taste
1 cup Les Moulins Mahjoub cous cous (available at TCB)
1/3 cup dates chopped
1/3 cup almonds sliced or slivered
1/3 cup red onion sliced thin or one small shallot
1 Tablespoon mint, chiffonade
Olive Oil and Balsamic Vinegar, to taste
Salt & Pepper, to taste
Season chicken leg quarters with ground cumin, coriander, salt and pepper. Sear in a heavy braising dish and set aside. In the same dish, sauté sliced onion. Once lightly caramelized, add garlic and apricots. As soon as the garlic becomes aromatic, add chicken stock, cinnamon, honey and piquant orange preserve and bring to a boil. Add the seared chicken back to the pan, reduced heat to a simmer and cover. You can leave the pan on the stove on low heat or put it in the oven at 325 degrees. Either way, let the chicken cook for approximately an hour, and then add in carrots, parsnips and sweet potato. Cook for another 15-20 minutes, until the chicken is fork tender, and vegetables are tender. Once it is finished cooking, finish with balsamic vinegar and lemon juice. Don’t forget to adjust salt and pepper to taste.
This is best served with a light cous cous salad. Cook the cous cous as directed, add in dates, almonds, red onion, mint, and season with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper.