Simple dishes with fresh ingredients define my weeknight dinners. On the weekends, I want a feast that entails juice dripping down my arms, multiple napkins, and second or third helpings.
Lately, I keep coming back to a Joanne Weir dish that delivers just that experience. It combines the sweetness of dates with chicken braised in stock, shallots, cinnamon sticks, and a ginger-cumin-turmeric-cayenne spice blend. When topped with crunchy toasted almonds and fragrant cilantro and served over fluffy couscous, this dish is transformed into the perfect weekend indulgence.
Chicken with Cinnamon, Almonds, and Dates
Adapted from a Joanne Weir recipe published in Bon Appetit
3-1/2 pounds chicken thighs and drumsticks
1 tablespoons of flour
6 - 8 medium to large shallots (about a pound), peeled and sliced in half lengthwise at the stem if large
3 cinnamon sticks
1-1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
3-1/2 cups low-salt chicken stock
5 tablespoons lemon juice
12 dates, pitted
1/4 cup almonds, toasted and coarsely chopped
1/4 cup fresh cilantro to top
Heat the olive oil in a large Dutch oven. Season the chicken with salt and pepper on all sides and then dust with flour. In batches, brown the chicken and transfer to a platter. Pour off all but 1 tablespoon of fat from the pot and discard. Add the shallots to the pot and saute until they soften, about 6 minutes. Add cinnamon sticks, cumin, ginger, turmeric, and cayenne. Stir until fragrant, one minute. Add the broth, chicken, and half the lemon juice and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, partially cover, and simmer about 20 minutes. Add the dates.
Remove the lid and continue cooking for about 20 minutes until liquid thickens. If too thin, place 2 - 3 ladles full of liquid into a saucepan and reduce by half, then place back in the Dutch oven. Add the remaining lemon juice. Top each serving with chopped almonds and cilantro and serve over couscous.