Stewed Chicken with Apricots
This dish is rather on the sweet side and if you do not add enough "other flavors" such as heat from chilis or a zip from an acidic yogurt sauce on the side it is overwhelmingly sweet (for me, because I love "zesty food"). I feel you need balance in a meal because balance is necessary in all parts of life, not just food. I like to serve it with grilled asparagus because its funky taste compliments the sweetness of the chicken. And add a yogurt sauce, a saffron rice and a nice bottle of red wine and it's complete! These are technically all "suggestions" but in truth, you could omit everything but the red wine and drink your dinner if all goes to shit.....
Stewed Chicken with Apricots
4 boneless skinless chicken thighs
115 g chopped celery
115 g chopped onions
120 g dried apricots (quartered)
2-3 T olive oil
450 ml chicken stock
1 T tomato paste
1/2 t dried thyme
1 T dijon mustard
1 T flour
1 t lemon zest
2-3 t lemon juice
2 large cloves garlic, sliced
1/4-1/3 c red wine
1/4-1 whole, diced, milder chili pepper (you can decide how much to use depending on how hot it is, or what you prefer)
350 g asparagus (bottoms chopped off) grilled on a panini grill, grill pan or BBQ (explained below)
100 g yogurt (your choice of style)
1/4 t lemon zest
1/4 t dried dill or 1/2 t fresh
1 T fresh chives - chopped very fine
1 t lemon juice
In a large dutch oven on medium-high heat with 2 tablespoons of oil, drop your celery and onions. Let that stew for 5-7 minutes without the lid. You want them to sweat, but not brown too much. Lower your heat to medium and add the tomato paste, chili & garlic and mix it quickly. Let cook a couple of minutes, then pushing aside all the ingredients to make room for the chicken, set the chicken in the pan and cook two minutes per side on a medium to medium high heat. Getting some color on the chicken "ups" the flavors in the sauce. You may need to add the extra tablespoon of oil to the pan to help it brown properly. After cooking the two minutes per side, sprinkle in the flour and mix one more time. Cook for 1 more minute, stirring gently but regularly. Then add the dijon, thyme, s&p, apricots and wine. Stir well and cook again for a minute or two. Lastly, add the stock and once boiling, drop to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes with the lid on. I leave the lid on until service to keep it warm. You can also cook it earlier, leave the lid on and bring it back up to temperature before serving. But, when you are serving it, add the lemon juice & zest right before. If you put that in too early it can make a bitter taste form. Check for more salt & pepper before serving as well!
While the chicken is cooking, you can mix all of the ingredients for the sauce together and set aside.
In a grill pan, panini machine or bbq, grill your asparagus for 3-8 minutes after tossing in olive oil and s&p. You want them to be al dente. In a panini machine, they cook both sides at the same time and it only takes about 3-4 minutes. The other cooking forms will need more time after rotating the asparagus.
Lay the asparagus on a plate, the chicken on top with sauce from the pan. On your individual plates drizzle the yogurt sauce on just before eating.
Click here for the saffron rice recipe that accompanied this dish.