Chicken, prunes, and carrots doesn’t sound particularly interesting or appetizing but let me stop you right there. This is maybe one of the best dishes I have ever had. What is amazing is that it’s super simple but there’s a trick to this being stunning. Trick number one, the best ingredients you can source. Trick number two, how it’s prepared.
Where to start… Well I guess I should start with the recipe. The dish is called Crispy Chicken with Tsimmes. This is yet another amazing dish from The Gefilte Manifesto.
When I knew I was going to be switching from winter dishes to spring dishes I started thumbing through cookbooks looking for any chicken or lamb recipes as those will be the meats I will be working with primarily through spring. As I was working my way though cookbooks I have had a lot of recent success with I stumbled across this dish. I thought, wow, that would be the perfect winter to spring transition since this is a chicken dish but also is reminiscent of a stew. The recipe is simple enough…
Make your glaze using:
- 3 tablespoons (20 grams) Fresh Ginger, grated (I like to use something like a micro plainer)
- 3 tablespoons (63 grams) Honey
- 1 tablespoon (14 grams) Olive Oil
- 2 teaspoons Salt
- ½ teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes
- Zest of 1 Lemon
Put all of these ingredients in a small bowl and whisk together. Set aside until you’re ready to use. Then start in on your chicken…
In a large straight sided sauté pan or a cast iron pan if you prefer add:
- 1 tablespoon (14 grams) Olive Oil
Place over medium heat. At this time also preheat your oven to 400ºF. Once you’re oil is hot add:
- 2 – 2 ½ pounds Chicken Pieces, with skin (the skin is critical to this dishes success)
Place the chicken skin side down searing the chicken for 5-7 minutes or until nicely browned. (Now, I should jump in here and say that I never have any luck getting an intact crust on meat if I use anything but a non-stick pan. I first tried a few pieces in the stainless steel pan I was planning on using but the skin was ripping as I tried to remove it from the pan so I did the rest in a non-stick skillet and scraped any of the cooking juices back into the sauté pan. This isn’t necessary as I was trying to have pieces good enough to take pictures of but I thought it was worth disclosing.)
While your chicken is searing slice:
- 1 Yellow Onion, sliced in half then in thin slices
- 1 pound Carrots, sliced, I used a variety of colored carrots since they were at the market
- ½ pound Pitted Prunes, sliced in half
Once the chicken is done with it’s sear pull out of the pan and let rest. Add the onions and cook just until they soften. Then add the carrots and prunes and cook just until the carrots begin to soften, about 10 minutes.
While the veggies are cooking generously coat the seared chicken with your ginger-honey glaze and measure out:
- ½ cup (4 ounces) Water
Once the carrots begin to soften pour the water in the pan. With a wooden spoon scrape up the bits stuck to the bottom of the pan, deglazing it. Then arrange the chicken on top of the tsimmes (the veggie mixture). Pour any juices from the plate the chicken was resting on as well as any remaining glaze over the chicken. Place the entire pan in the oven (uncovered) and cook for 30-35 minutes or until the chicken registers 165º on an instant read thermometer stuck into the thickest part of the chicken.
Let rest for a few minutes. Then serve, garnished with fresh parsley.
All in all this recipe took me maybe 45 minutes start to finish and most of that was cooking time in the oven when I was having to do anything.
So at the beginning I mentioned that a key to this dish is high quality ingredients. This is always the case when you have fewer and fewer ingredients. Sure there are a few ingredients in the glaze but no glaze is going to change how good or bad your chicken tastes and it’s texture. The technique of searing it, letting it rest, and then cooking it on top of a bed of veggies will help the texture of your chicken but if you have good chicken it will be amazing. For my chicken I purchased it at the St. Paul Meat Shop. In the case the chicken looked good but I happened to over hear one of the employees that once you taste this chicken you’ll never go back. I was intrigued and purchased their chicken. OMG, amazing! Moist, almost juicy, tender, and that was the white meat. Oh, and when I say White I mean white. I have never seen a chicken breast cook to such a clean pure color before! Amazing. I am still in awe of this chicken even the day after eating it. All this is to say, sure I could have gotten my chicken at the supermarket and maybe this would have been a good dish but by finding high quality chicken it turned this dish into something I will always remember.
The next thing I have to confess is that I don’t like cooked carrots. I just don’t see the appeal. However, I have been converted. Something about the combination of the chicken, with the carrots, with the prunes, and the onions. It was just mouth watering! This isn’t to say I would now happily eat a side of steam carrots but it’s to say I have found one recipe that I can’t truly enjoy them! So much so that I can’t wait for carrots to be in season at the farmers market to try this recipe again with farm fresh carrots!
Now, I also mention the importance of the skin on the chicken. This is key. The reason being is that it releases a lot of fat as it cooks both in the searing and in the roasting. This is needed to both properly sauté the veggies and to give enough moisture while it’s roasting to make the carrots just perfect in texture. The recipe does say you need bone-in chicken and although I do realize this can add a ton of flavor and help keep your skin intact I would say that I would use just a few thighs along with a majority of boneless breasts next time to make serving and eating easier.
To finish off this dish I served it with a piece of homemade Weinheim Carrot Rye bread. If you’re interested in this bread check out The Rye Baker.