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Braised Chicken with Quick-Preserved Meyer Lemons

Mildly tart Meyer lemons have a full, ripe, almost floral aroma. This recipe includes a method for making an easy version of Moroccan preserved lemons that very quickly draws out bold flavor from thin slices of Meyer lemons. Their citrusy intensity adds sunny notes to this braised dish that is fragrant with spices.

Ingredients:

  • 2 Meyer lemons 
  • 2 Tbs. plus 1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt  
  • 1 1/2 tsp. coriander seeds 
  • 1 1/2 tsp. cumin seeds  
  • 1 tsp. sweet paprika 
  • 1 tsp. ground ginger 
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon  
  • 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper 
  • 1 chicken, about 4 lb. 
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper 
  • 2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil 
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped 
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced 
  • 1 can (28 oz.) diced tomatoes, drained 
  • 1 cup low-sodium chicken broth or stock 
  • 1 can (15 oz.) chickpeas, rinsed and drained 
  • 1 Tbs. coarsely chopped fresh cilantro 

Directions:

Slice the lemons into rounds about 1/8 inch thick, discarding any seeds. Sprinkle 1 Tbs. of the salt on a plate and arrange the lemon slices on the salt. Sprinkle the slices with 1 Tbs. of the salt. Let stand while preparing the chicken.

In a small, dry fry pan over medium heat, toast the coriander and cumin seeds, stirring occasionally, until fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes.

Using a mortar and pestle or a spice grinder, finely grind together the coriander and cumin seeds. Transfer to a small bowl and stir in the paprika, ginger, cinnamon and cayenne.

Cut the chicken into 9 pieces, then season with the 1 1/2 tsp. salt and the pepper.

In a Dutch oven over medium-high heat, warm the olive oil until very hot but not smoking. Working in batches, add the chicken, skin side down, and cook, turning once or twice, until deeply browned on both sides, about 10 minutes per batch. Transfer to a platter.

Add the onion and sauté until golden, about 6 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the spice mixture and stir for 15 seconds. Stir in the tomatoes and broth and bring to a boil, stirring to scrape up the browned bits from the pan bottom. Return the drumsticks, thighs and wings, and then the breasts to the pot. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover and simmer for 40 minutes. Meanwhile, rinse and drain the lemon slices and finely dice them.

Stir the diced lemons and chickpeas into the pot and continue to cook until the chicken shows no sign of pink when pierced with the tip of a sharp knife near the bone, 5 to 10 minutes more.

Remove the pot from the heat and let stand for 5 minutes. Skim off any fat that rises to the top of the cooking liquid. Transfer the chicken to a warmed deep platter and sprinkle with the cilantro. Serve immediately. Serves 4.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma New Flavors for Chicken, by Rick Rodgers (Oxmoor House, 2008).