Saturday, February 26, 2011

Mediterranean Braised Chicken with Butternut Squash

There are few dishes I've been craving recently, some Indian samosas, Indian flat bread and vegetarian curry but today I got a taste for Mediterranean flavors. As the chicken was defrosted in the fridge I could have made one of the few variations of Mediterranean braised chicken I made in the past but I wanted a newer recipe to explore. I remembered seeing years ago, as it turns out 2002, a Mediterranean braised chicken recipe in one of Fine Cooking's magazines. I couldn't really remember the title, I only knew it was Mediterranean and the picture was burnt in my mind. I started going through many of my archived magazines when I thought why not just google it instead and sure enough it instantly came up. I saw the picture and I almost could taste it, you see I haven't had lunch yet.

It is a Friday and Jonathan and I, since Sagie (gie as in geese) is away in college, don't make an effort, and fell out of the habit of Friday night nice sit down family Shabbat dinner. I thought it would be nice as opposed to dining out or have a quick take out. It will be nice to have a luscious dinner of Mediterranean braised chicken with couscous and some salads. A purple cabbage coleslaw, an Israeli tomato and cucumber salad and roasted eggplant.
I adjust a recipe according to whim but also I adjust as I go along if I am in the midst of making it and realize I don't have dried figs I substitute, as in this case with golden raisins. I also didn't peel and core the tomatoes, as I didn't feel it was necessary in this dish and saved some time. I also like with this method to start on the stove and complete the dish in the oven. I added diced bell peppers. You can add a tablespoon of honey if you wish. I would have added chickpeas, if we didn't go through them like water. Don't have squash, use pumpkin or zucchini or both. Point being make this dish your own.:)

Braised Mediterranean Chicken
inspired by Fine cooking Magazine recipe here

Ingredients:
3 lbs cut up chicken (I used drumsticks skin on)
Salt to taste
Fresh black pepper
1/2 Canola oil
2 Medium onions, diced
1 Red bell pepper, diced
1 Yellow or orange bell pepper, diced
1/4-1/2 Cup Golden raisins
6 Garlic cloves, minced
Pinch to 1/4 teaspoon saffron
2 Cinnamon sticks
2 Tomatoes, diced
1/4-1/2 Teaspoon cinnamon
1 1/2 Chicken broth or water
1 Cup chopped parsley
1 Cup chopped cilantro
Juice of 1/2 lemon
6 Drops of Tabasco
1/2 Medium dice butternut squash
Garnish:
Pomegranate seeds
Chopped parsley
Lemon wedges

Directions:
1. Heat up oil in a large dutch oven on low/medium. Black pepper and salt drumstick and golden on both side in heated oil. Scoop out of dutch oven once golden and set aside in a large bowl.
2. Saute onions, garlic, cinnamon sticks, saffron and bell peppers on low medium heat in same dutch oven. Scrape golden bits and pieces into onion. Work with a heat resistant rubber spatula or heat resistant hard plastic spatula. Saute onions bell pepper mixture until soft.
3. Add raisins and continue to saute until they plump. Turn on oven to 350F. Add the chicken back into the onion mixture in the dutch oven.
4. Add cumin, cinnamon, tomatoes, parsley, cilantro Tabasco and lemon juice. Cover with water or chicken broth and bring to a boil. Once boiled turn off stove, put a lid on and put in a preheated 350F oven.
5. Cook in oven for 1/2 an hour and then add the butternut squash and cook for 10 minutes longer.
Note: I like the chicken to fall off the bone so I cook for total of 1 hour adding the squash 10 minutes before dish is done. Squash cooks really fast but check for doneness before taking out of the oven.
6. Scoop into a large dish and garnish with lemon wedges, pomegranate seeds and fresh parsley.

Serve with: couscous plain or Fine Cooking recipe here.

31 comments :

  1. That looks fabulous Shulie! I've been on an Indian food kick recently too; so so delicious. I'll definitely be trying out this recipe. I'll let you know how it is.

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  2. Can you tell that I regret not coming over yesterday? ;-) My daughter went to a Jewish Nursery school and every friday was a treat, as we celebrated Shabbbath in school with the kids. Prayers and food and now sometimes I have bad cravings for challah bread.

    saffron, cumin pomegranate.. its elegance with comfort. Wonderful Shulie.

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  3. Beautiful flavors, and just what I am craving, too. I have chicken in the fridge, I will be making this tomorrow!

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  4. Thanks Rachel. What kind of Indian food have you been making? Let me know how this turned out.
    Thanks Soma. that is wonderful. I think it is the same around the corner here at the JCC half the kids at the preschool are of other denominations and have Shabbat dinners at home:). You should have come last night. Challa? Now I want to bake some.
    Thanks Liren! Let me know how it turns out. Look at the Fine Cooking recipe link if you want to be true to original:).

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  5. So many wonderful flavors and ingredients are combined in this dish. I love that you served it with couscous. It's a prefect pairing. Delicious!


    Nisrine

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  6. This is a great sounding dish. I like all the warm spices and the saffron added. This sounds like real comfort food all dressed up! :)

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  7. Gorgeous chicken dish and I'm loving all those flavors! I think it must be wonderful with dried figs or raisins. That's nice that you and J did a special Shabbat dinner:)

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  8. My memories are filled with Shabbat dinners of roast chicken... always comforting and delicious... but, Shulie, this just takes the cake. What a flavorful dish and a unique recipe!

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  9. A wonderful comforting dish for these cold winter months. We have a new dutch oven -- a teal-colored Le Creuset -- and this braised chicken will be perfect! Thanks for the inspiration, Shulie!

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  10. This actually reminds me quite a bit of a butternut squash stew I've made before, the spices and ingredients are similar, except that instead of the chicken I used chickpeas.

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  11. Thanks Nisrine, I cannot think of any other carb that will go better with it! :) Megan, thanks. Definitely comfort food:).Thanks Lora, Prunes also will be a good substitute.Thanks Brian, Aww, it's nice to have those memories. Your mommy did a good job to create them.:)Thanks Rebecca now we crave something spicy:). Thanks Jun. definitely! A comforting dish for a wintery night. Thanks Sylvie. Funny you should mention Chickpeas I was planning on adding them till I figured we go through them so fast and I had to make a run to the supermarket.

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  12. Pictures look great. Could you substitute something else if you don't like squash? What else could you use?

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  13. Thanks Anonymous! If you don't like squash, pumpkin or zucchini you can add chickpeas, potatoes just as two examples. Potatoes add once you add golden chicken back into the pot and chickpeas half way through. You can also add wedges of cabbage 10-15 minutes before cooking time is up, it cooks fast, so good! I hope this helps!

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  14. What a beautiful chicken dish! I love the different spices you used, it looks and sounds so flavorful. Love the addition of the raisins :)

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  15. how good is that?? I cooked something similar today, but could not compare to yours (so pretty!)

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  16. Mmmmm, looks delicious and Indian food is a fave at our house. Great photos too. Thanks for posting to our FB page!

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  17. Thx Linds, you can make this without cilantro if you wish. Thx Ahn I am sure it was delicious, I just prettied it up a bit for the pic:)Thx Michaela, long time!! Yes, next is Indian just dying to get some spice in:).

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  18. This is so perfect, Shulie! J3 and I love these flavors. Butternut squash is also one of my favorite veggies to grow.

    This sure is an inspired dish! Thank you for sharing!

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  19. I love what you've pulled together here, such great flavors and a beautiful way to welcome Shabbat!

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  20. Late for the party, as usual:) I love Mediterranean flavors. I have made chicken with couscous many times, sometimes with preserved lemons, sometimes with dried fruit, but I can only imagine how flavorful it would be with butternut squash, all soft, creamy, and sweet.
    I love your dish, it's perfect! And yes, you made it really purty:)

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  21. What a beautiful recipe, Shulie. This kind of dish, with the flavors or saffron, cinnamon and cilantro, is true comfort food to me.

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  22. Perfect for Autumn, which has just officially begun in NZ. Just sounds so flavourful & aromatic.

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  23. Shulie: i will save this for later on, for the fall! looks very aromatic and comforting.

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  24. Annapet, Thx! I am jealous of your garden. Cara,thank you! It was nice to have a sit down Fri. night. the dish is so flavorful.Lara, I know exactly which dishes you are talking about I make the same chicken w/preserved lemons:) Was a challenge to make comfort food look pretty. Thx! :)Thx Dara, screaming comfort this dish! :) thanks! Thanks Mairi, happy autumn is at the door let me know once you try it. Amelia, Thank you, sometimes even in the midst of summer I suddenly crave comfort food so I make this type of dishes, but usually in the fall or winter.

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  25. As the weather starts to slowly warm up I have have been craving Middle Eastern and Mediterranean flavors. This dish is a perfect in-between seasons dishes, blending winter and spring together.

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  26. I have never had this but I can imagine the delicous flavour. Love the picture.

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  27. Wow, gorgeous photographs!!! This dish sounds and looks stunning! Wow!

    Great blog; happy I found you!

    Mary xo
    Delightful Bitefuls

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  28. What a wonderful way to enliven chicken. My family has been on a "chicken is so boring" kick recently. Thanks for the suggestion.

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  29. Shulie darling, this dish looks & sounds wonderful for your Friday Shabbat Dinner! I had a Jewish friend who lived next door to me growing up & I used to join her family for Shabbat dinners which were amazing! I'm so thankful to my friends family to include me in such a beautiful traditional dinners!Great memories!

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  30. @tabletalk thx!! So true it is a blend of seasons as you said. I couldn't put it any better. @happycook thx means a lot especially since I found it more challenging this time around to snap the pics. Thx Mary, Happy to meet you too!! Thanks Lael, Sometimes I feel the same with chicken:). Thx Sara, aww aren't they the best those Friday night with friends and family around the table?!

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