Lemon Confit Chicken with Calamata Olives
- ACTIVE: 30 MIN
- TOTAL TIME: 1 HR 30 MIN
- SERVINGS: 4
Bruno Paillard's wife, Marie, uses a homemade lemon confit in this Moroccan-inspired dish, macerating whole organic lemons in a kosher salt, spice and fresh lemon-juice brine for up to two months. To simplify the dish, we used storebought preserved lemons imported from Morocco. The lemons, which are available at some specialty stores, have a silken texture and a distinctive pungent flavor similar to that of homemade lemon confit ($15 for half a liter from Bella Cucina; 800-580-5674 or www.bellacucina.com).
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 medium onion, minced
- 4 large chicken breast halves on the bone with skin (about 3 1/2 pounds)
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 3/4 cup minced flat-leaf parsley
- 1/2 cup minced cilantro, plus 12 cilantro sprigs
- 1 heaping teaspoon finely grated fresh ginger
- Pinch of saffron
- 1 cup dry white wine, such as Chardonnay
- 1 cup chicken stock or low-sodium broth
- 1 cup Calamata olives, pitted
- 1 Moroccan preserved lemon from a jar, pulp discarded and peel finely diced
- In a large enameled cast-iron casserole, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Add the minced onion and cook over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until just starting to brown, about 5 minutes. Scrape into a bowl.
- Season the chicken breasts with salt and pepper. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil to the casserole and sear the chicken in 2 batches, until browned, about 3 minutes per side. Return all of the chicken to the casserole.
- Add the cinnamon sticks, minced parsley and cilantro, ginger, saffron, sautéed onion, white wine and stock to the casserole and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to moderate, cover and simmer the chicken for 30 minutes. Stir the olives and preserved lemon into the casserole and simmer until the chicken breasts are cooked through, about 15 minutes longer. Transfer the lemon confit chicken to a warm platter and cover with foil.
- Boil the cooking liquid in the casserole over high heat until reduced by half and slightly thickened, about 10 minutes. Discard the cinnamon sticks. Spoon the sauce over the chicken, garnish with the cilantro sprigs and serve.
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