This recipe is quite involved and takes some time but it’s not a difficult dish to make. And to be sure, every minute spent on this is well worth the effort! The herbs and spices used amp up the flavor profile and adding some freshly grated lemon zest and lemon juice at the end takes it over the edge! Rather than adding the lemon juice at the end, some sliced lemons on the side would also work.
First, peel, cut in half and then thinly slice:
2-3 medium-sized sweet onions
If you don’t have sweet onions, add 1 teaspoon date sugar when you cook them. Let them sit while heating a medium-sized Dutch oven over medium heat with:
2 tablespoons olive oil
When the oil is shimmering add:
1 1/2 to 2 pounds bone-in chicken thighs or boneless, skinless chicken breasts
that are seasoned with:
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
If using skin-on, bone-in thighs, cook skin side down. Loosely arrange chicken in pan (may take more than one batch). Brown on all sides, about 6-8 minutes. Remove to a plate. Drain all but 2 tablespoons oil from the pan before adding the onion slices. Reduce heat to medium low and cook, stirring frequently until well caramelized (browned). If not using sweet onions, here’s where to add the:
1 teaspoon date sugar
It can take 25-30 minutes to caramelize the onions because they need to cook slowly so that they don’t burn, we want them browned – caramelized, not burned. Once the onions are ready, add to the pot:
4 garlic cloves, minced (about 4 teaspoons minced garlic)
2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger (or 1/2 teaspoon dried ginger)
1 teaspoon fresh thyme (or 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme)
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander (or cardamom, nutmeg, or allspice)
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/8 teaspoon saffron threads, crushed
Sauté for about 30 seconds until the herbs and spices are fragrant before adding:
6 ounces sliced mushrooms (Optional, peas would also work)
2 cups chicken stock or bone broth
the browned chicken pieces and any juices on the plate
If using skin-on thighs, be sure the browned side is up. Cover and let simmer for 20 minutes. Add to the pot:
1 1/2 cups uncooked rice*
1/3 cup dried fruit (I used cranberries but raisins or dried cherries would also work)
Stir in the rice and fruit, bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, cover and cook for another 30 minutes or until rice is tender and chicken is cooked. Most of the liquid should be gone from the pot so be careful not to burn the dish. Remove the chicken from the pot, moving the pot off the heat and re-cover so that it stays hot. Remove skin if using skin-on chicken and let sit for 8-10 minutes before slicing the meat (and removing the bones if using bone-in chicken). Add the chicken back into the pot along with:
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
1 tablespoon juice
3 tablespoons fresh cilantro or parsley (Optional)
Stir to combine. Reheat until the chicken is heated through and serve. Serves 4-6.
*I used pre-cooked brown rice in my dish so I cooked the chicken 30 minutes before adding the frozen rice and then cooked it only an additional 10 minutes.
Since I don’t care for cilantro and don’t think much of parsley either, I sprinkled some green onions on top of my dish.