Chef Alison Swope calls for a whole chicken to be cut into pieces for this recipe; she reserves the chicken's wingtips and backbone to enrich store-bought chicken broth for her Barley Risotto (see related recipe). At Bread for the City, she also used some of the leftover braised chicken to make soup for another meal.
To cut down on the fat, the chicken skin may be removed before braising.
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 1/2-pound fryer chicken, cut into pieces (wingtips and backbone reserved for stock)
- Salt (optional)
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus additional for seasoning the chicken
- 4 slices uncooked turkey bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
- 1 large yellow onion, coarsely chopped (about 1 cup)
- 1 quart low-sodium chicken broth
- 2 medium cloves garlic, minced
- 2 2-inch strips of orange peel (cut with a vegetable peeler)
- 2 2-inch strips of lemon peel (cut with a vegetable peeler)
- 6 sprigs thyme
- 3 sprigs oregano
- 1/2 cup pitted dates (11 to 14 dates)
- 1/2 cup pitted, brined olives, such as a mixture of kalamata, Provencal or other good-quality olives, cut in half lengthwise
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Have ready a large ovenproof casserole dish or a Dutch oven.
Heat the oil in a large saute pan over medium heat until it is almost smoking. Lightly season the chicken pieces with salt, if desired, and pepper to taste. Carefully add the chicken to the pan, skin side down. Cook for about 10 minutes, until nicely browned on one side, then turn the pieces and cook for about 8 minutes, until they have browned on the second side. Remove the pan from the heat; transfer the chicken to the casserole dish and set aside.
Return the saute pan to medium heat and add the turkey bacon pieces and onion. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes, until the onion begins to caramelize. Reduce the heat to medium-low and add the chicken broth, garlic, citrus peels, thyme, oregano, dates, olives and a teaspoon of black pepper, creating a braising liquid. Cook for about 15 minutes or until the liquid has reduced by about one-third. Remove from the heat and pour the braising liquid over the chicken pieces; cover the casserole dish tightly with aluminum foil and with a lid, if available. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes or until the meat is tender but not falling off the bone.
Transfer the chicken to a platter or divide among individual plates; discard the citrus peels and herb sprigs and skim off any fat that has risen to the top of the braising liquid, then spoon the defatted liquid over the chicken. Serve warm.
From chef Alison Swope.
Tested by Randy Richter.
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