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Chicken Fricassee with Lemon, Saffron, and Green Olives

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We Gills think of this as a French tagine dish. — Beth

From The Best American Recipes 2002-2003.

This gem surfaced as one of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s top 10 recipes from 2001. Reagan Walker went to France to take some cooking classes at Julia Child’s old cottage in Provence, and out of dozens of recipes she returned with, this affordable dish is her hands-down favorite, especially for a casual dinner party. Delectable aromas from the kitchen will greet your guests at the door—always a good way to start an evening. The combination of lemon, saffron, tomatoes, and green olives creates a wonderful sunny tangy flavor—especially welcome in the dark winter months. Although heavy cream is added to finish the sauce, it doesn’t have the heaviness associated with many cream sauces—in fact, this sauce is actually rather thin, so you’ll want to serve bread to sop it up or even consider serving the fricassee in shallow bowls if you want more sauce.

Ingredients

  • 1 3 ½ lb chicken, cut into 8 pieces
  • ¼ c. olive oil
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and diced
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 celery rib, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • ¼ c. dry white wine (or 2 T. apple cider vinegar)
  • ½ c. chicken stock
  • 2 large tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and chopped
  • 2 oz. (or ¼ cup) cracked and pitted green olives
  • 1 tablespoon freshly crushed coriander seeds
  • 1-2 large pinches saffron
  • Juice of one lemon
  • ¾ cup heavy cream
  • 1 Preserved Lemon, cut into quarters, then sliced (see note)
  • 1 bunch fresh cilantro, thick stems discarded and leaves chopped

Preparation

Season the chicken pieces with salt and pepper.

In a large sauté pan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the chicken and brown on all sides, turning with tongs, for about 10 minutes. Add the carrots, onion, celery, and garlic and sauté until the vegetables are limp but not browned. Add the wine and bring to a boil. Add the chicken stock, tomatoes, olives, coriander seeds, and saffron and return to a boil. Cover the pan with parchment paper and then a lid, reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for about 45 minutes or until the chicken is tender.

Transfer the chicken to a serving platter and keep warm. Increase the heat to medium-high, add the lemon juice, and scrape the bottom of the pan to loosen the browned vegetables. Add the cream and the preserved lemon slices and boil until the liquid is reduced by half or until slightly thickened. Strain if desired (though the bits taste great) and season with salt and pepper to taste. Pour the sauce over the chicken and scatter the cilantro over the top. Serve immediately.

Notes

Serves 4
You can also use Aziza Benchekroun’s Five-Day Preserved Lemon Special. Substituting fresh lemon does not work!

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