Chicken with Onions, Lemon, and Saffron
This chicken dish is easy to make and has complex flavors. Finishing it with the preserved lemons and cilantro garnish is inspired.
1 whole chicken, cut into 12 pieces (leave skin on)
freshly ground black pepper
½ cup all-purpose flour seasoned with 1 tablespoon each salt and freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
3 large Spanish onions, peeled and sliced ¼ inch thick
2 whole lemons, cut into paper-thin slices
1 large bulb fennel, sliced ¼ inch thick
12 cloves garlic, peeled and left whole
½ cup green olives
1 teaspoon saffron threads
1 teaspoon hot pimentón (Spanish smoked paprika, available from tienda.com)
1 stick cinnamon
1 cup dry white wine (such as Albariño)
1 bunch cilantro, washed
1 whole preserved lemon, flesh removed and rind sliced into paper-thin slices (available from kalustyans.com)
¼ cup pomegranate pips
1. Preheat the oven to 425°F.
2. Rub the chicken pieces with coarse salt, rinse, and pat dry with paper towels.
3. Aggressively season the chicken pieces with salt and freshly ground pepper all over and then dredge them in the seasoned flour.
4. Heat the oil in a large, wide, heavy pot over medium-high heat until it’s nearly smoking.
5. Place half of the chicken pieces skin side down into the hot oil and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until golden brown and crispy, swirling the oil and rendered fat around the pot every minute or so.
6. Turn the chicken and cook for 2 minutes on the second side, then remove to a warm plate. Repeat with the remaining chicken pieces.
7. Add the onions, fresh lemon slices, fennel, garlic, olives, saffron, pimentón, and cinnamon to the pot and cook until softened and golden, about 8 to 10 minutes.
8. Add the wine and bring to a boil.
9. Place the chicken pieces and drippings from the plate into the onion bed, pushing them so that they’re almost covered with the onion mixture but with the skin still above the surface of the moist and delicious morass.
10. Place the whole pot, uncovered, in the oven and cook for 30 minutes.
11. Meanwhile tear the cilantro into 1-inch pieces, toss with the preserved lemon slices and pomegranates, and set on the table in a nice bowl.
12. Remove the chicken and serve immediately from the pot, pinching a bit of the cilantro salad over each portion.
Recipe courtesy of Mario Batali.
Originally featured in At Mario Batali’s for Dinner