Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Chicken with Caramelized Shallots and Honey

I finally got to crack open Arabesque: A Taste of Morocco, Turkey & Lebanon. It has been sitting at the bottom of my cookbook stack for a while. It's so pretty I've wanted to play with some of the recipes in there, but I have been working on other cuisines. I pulled it out to find a recipe for Monthly Mingle #9: Arabian Nights hosted by Meeta at What's For Lunch Honey? I didn't get very far flipping through recipes before I decided to try Chicken with Caramelized Baby Onions and Honey which is on page 85.

While the recipe calls for an entire chicken, I decided to use about 8 chicken thighs because those are my favorite part. I purchased the thighs that still have the bones and skin on them so that I would get all of the true flavors from the chicken.

This recipe takes a while to prepare. Preparing the ingredients and cooking the chicken takes about an hour. Caramelizing the onions at the end took way longer than I expected. I think I had to boil them at least a half hour before the water cooked off. But my house smelled wonderful the entire time . . . onions, saffron ginger and cinnamon - yum! And it gave me time to prepare the rice which I forgot to make.

Chicken with Caramelized Baby Onions and Honey
Djaj Bil Assal

(servers 4)

1 pound shallots or baby onions
1 onion, chopped
4 tablespoons sunflower oil
good pinch of saffron threads
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 chicken, cut up in 6 or 8 pieces
salt and black pepper
1 to 1/2 tablespoons clear honey

To garnish:
1/2 cup blanched almonds or a handful of sesame seeds (optional)

To peel the shallots or baby onions, blanch them in boiling water for 5 minutes, drain and when cool enough to handle, peel off the skins and trim the root ends.

Saute the chopped onion until softened in the oil over a medium heat in a pan or casserole large enough to hold the chicken pieces in one layer. Stir in the saffron, ginger, and cinnamon, then put in the chicken pieces. Season with salt and pepper, and turn to brown them lightly all over.

Add about 1 cup water and cook, covered, over a low heat, turning the pieces over for 15 minutes, or until the chicken breasts are done. Lift out the breasts and put them to one side. Add the shallots or baby onions and continue to cook, covered, for about 25 minutes, or until the remaining chicken pieces are very tender. During the cooking, turn the chicken pieces and stir the onions occasionally; add a little water, if necessary.

Lift out the chicken pieces and set to one side. Stir the honey into the pan, check the seasoning. You need quite a bit of pepper to mitigate the sweetness. Cook, uncovered, until all the water has evaporated, and the onions are brown, caramelized, and so soft that you could crush them, as they say in Morocco, "with your tongue."

Return the chicken pieces to the pan, spoon the onions on top of them, and heat through. A few minutes should be enough. Serve, if you wish, sprinkled either with blanched almonds fried in a drop of oil until they are lightly golden, or with toasted sesame seeds.


Brilynn said...

That looks delicious! I have some local honey that I absolutely love and it would be perfect in this dish.

deinin said...

That looks wonderful. I need to try this!

Manisha said...

This looks absolutely divine!! Onions, ginger, cinnamon and honey...yum!

Meeta said...

To die for! Rachel, this looks too good to be true!!

Freya and Paul said...

Looks so good! You cook the most delicious sounding chicken dishes!

Erin said...

What a great idea! I'm definitely bookmarking this one. Honey and chicken and mmm mmm good ;)