Chicken Braised with Carrots, Turnips and Summer Squash with Apricot & Pistachio Couscous

        From the blog For Love of the Table

2 1/2 to 3 lbs. chicken drumsticks, thighs or a combination

2 T. olive oil, divided

1 1/2 T. butter

1 1/4 lb. carrots and turnips—in any combination that you prefer (see notes)—trimmed and peeled

10 to 12 oz. summer squash or zucchini

1 large onion (12 oz.), diced

3 to 4 cloves garlic, minced

1 2-inch piece cinnamon stick

1/2 t. (slightly mounded) ground ginger

1/4 t. (slightly mounded) turmeric

2 c. chicken stock or no-salt canned chicken broth

Generous pinch of saffron, crumbled

1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed

1/2 T. freshly squeezed lemon juice...more or less as needed

1/3 c. finely sliced flat leaf parsley

1/3 c. finely sliced cilantro

2 T. Harissa (more or less, to taste)—purchased or homemade


Season the chicken generously with salt and pepper.  In a large braising pan (wide enough to hold all the chicken and deep enough to accommodate all of the chicken and vegetables) set over moderate heat melt the butter in 1 T. of the olive oil.  When the butter is melted, increase the heat.  When the butter foam subsides, add the chicken (skin side down if using thighs).  Carefully brown the chicken until the fat is rendered and the skin is crisp and golden.  Regulate the heat as necessary to maintain and active sizzle without scorching the chicken.  Drumsticks will need to be carefully rotated and will take longer—perhaps 20 to 25 minutes.  Thighs will primarily need to be browned on the skin side with only a quick surface sear on the side without skin and will take less time. 


While the chicken browns, cut the vegetables.  Cut the carrots on a short diagonal into 3/4- to 1-inch chunks.  Cut the turnips into a rough 3/4- to 1-inch dice.  Trim the ends away from the squash.  Cut into 1-inch chunks. 


Remove the browned chicken pieces to a plate.  Add the onions to the pan along with a pinch of salt (and more olive oil if the pan seems dry).  Cook the onions over moderate heat—reducing the heat if they onions start to brown too much—until quite soft...15 minutes or longer, if necessary.  Add the garlic, cinnamon stick, ginger and turmeric and cook until fragrant (about a minute).  Add the broth and the browned chicken (along with any juices that have been released as the chicken sits) to the pan.  Bring to a simmer.  Crumble in the saffron and season with 3/4 t. kosher salt (less if you have used salted broth).  Add the carrots and turnips and bring to a simmer.  Cover with a tight fitting lid and simmer gently for 20 minutes.  Add the squash...making sure all the vegetables are submerged in the broth...return to a simmer, cover and cook another 20 minutes.  Add the chickpeas, cover and continue to simmer until the vegetables and chicken are tender—another 10 to 20 minutes.  Taste and correct the seasoning.  If the dish seems very sweet...or one dimensional...add a squeeze of lemon.  


Serve with cilantro and parsley scattered over.  Pass Harissa separately so each diner can drizzle it on to taste (or...if you prefer...and you know that everyone will enjoy the heat of Harissa, stir 2 T. of Harissa into the broth prior to serving).  Serve accompanied by Apricot & Pistachio Couscous.


Serves 4 to 6.


Apricot & Pistachio Couscous:

1 c. couscous

3/4 t. kosher salt

1/2 c. sliced dried apricots (75 grams)

2 T. unsalted butter

1 1/4 c. water

1/2 c. pistachios, toasted and coarsely chopped

1/4 t. cinnamon


Place the couscous in a medium sized bowl.  Add the salt and apricots and toss to combine.  Cut the butter into chunks and scatter over the surface.  Bring the water to a boil and pour over, swirling the bowl gently to make sure the water penetrates all of the couscous.  Cover tightly with plastic wrap and let stand for 10 minutes.  Uncover, add the pistachios and cinnamon and fluff with a fork.  Taste and correct the seasoning.