Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Algerian Lemon Saffron Chicken

I'm a bit short on time, but here's a quick recap for Run Swim Bike Cook.

Run: 26 miles. Definite progress!

Swim: 0
Bike: 0. Umm, looks like there's room for improvement here.

Bonus: Zumba class. Fun, but I'm still as uncoordinated as ever.

Cook: Last night we ate Algerian Lemon Saffron Chicken with Potato Crust. How's that for a mouthful? The recipe is Chef Zadi's, as discovered via icooktheworld. (See here and here.) This recipe caught my interest in that it A) used up our uncooked chicken, B) required no extra trips to the grocery store, and C) could be prepared in advance on a very busy weeknight. The saffron was an added bonus since we had plenty left over from last year's RSBC.
Ideally, this dish should be baked in a tagine, but since we seem to be short on North African earthenware at my house, I pulled out the dutch oven instead. Sliced onions were topped with marinated chicken, followed by a crust of potato slices. The entire dish baked in the oven, simmering in the lemon saffron marinade. We adapted the recipe slightly by adding a yam in with our white potatoes. Not only did this make the dish more colorful, but it added a splash of sweetness. While perhaps not as traditional, I really enjoyed this variation and might try encrusting the entire dish with sweet potatoes in the future.

Overall, the onions were tasty, the chicken was tender, and the potatoes were flavorful. My only complaint is that the saffron and turmeric masked the fresh lemon juice. If anything, the lemon was a subtle undertone--a canvas for the other flavors to play off of. So if you're in the mood for some simple yet tasty international cuisine, this Algerian dish is a winner. But should you be craving something really citrus-y, it'd probably be best to look elsewhere.


2 tablespoons olive oil
4 chicken breasts, with or without skin (I'm sure that chicken legs or thighs would work too)
1 large onion, sliced
3 large garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons saffron (I just used a pinch or two of saffron strands--the stuff's pricey)
1 teaspoon turmeric
salt, to taste
pepper, to taste
4 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 cup of warm water
12 Yukon Gold potatoes, unpeeled


Place the chicken breasts in a large plastic bag. Pour the warm water into a bowl, add the saffron, and stir. Pour this into the plastic bag, along with the turmeric, salt, pepper, lemon juice, some of the sliced onion and minced garlic. Place the plastic bag in a bowl, make sure all the chicken breasts are covered with the saffron liquid, then pop it in the refrigerator for a few hours.

Once the chickens are marinated, preheat the oven to 400 degrees and slice the potatoes into medium-sized pieces. Pour the olive oil into the Dutch Oven. Scatter the onions around the bottom of the Dutch Oven and place the chicken breasts on top of the onions. Cover the chicken with the potato slices. Pour the saffron liquid over the potatoes and chicken. Add the garlic, a bit of salt and pepper, and cover. Place in the oven and cook for 45 minutes to an hour.

Very moist and lovely. Serve with the Couscous and Aromatic Vegetables.

Serves 4.


Anonymous said...

"If anything, the lemon was a subtle undertone--a canvas for the other flavors to play off of.".
Sad day -- when did you become a food painter (food snob)?? Although your mother has class, your father taught you that a rather simple food continuum is the ideal. It is a variation of my own Dad's "grab a root and growl" philosophy. Namely, all food is good. If you must distinguish just categorize food as good, better, or best (with apologies to Elder Oaks). Keep Smiling!

Kara said...

Mr. Anonymous, I'd be mad, but there's truth to what you say. When did some sliced potatoes become a potato crust? Even as I blogged this I felt rather phony. As a humanities major, I certainly have the ability to talk the talk and make just about anything sound snazzy. But when it comes to fine cuisine, I'd probably best leave the high-falutin' lingo to the real experts. :)