Chicken with Caramelized Sumac Onions, Preserved Lemon, and Israeli Couscous

By • January 12, 2014 • 6 Comments

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Author Notes: Recently I became inspired while flipping through the Ottolenghi cookbook. I wanted a hearty chicken dish for dinner and though none of Yotam's recipes sounded perfect, his roast chicken with za'atar served as a marvelous foundation for this one-pot stew. It's fairly quick, can be made ahead, makes great leftovers, and just bursts with flavor!em-i-lis

Food52 Review: This is a simple-to-assemble one-pot chicken dish that fills the kitchen with a warming aroma. It would be a perfect meal to prepare for company, as you can put together a hearty green salad while it braises in the oven. The flavors are bright, unexpected, and fragrant, with a refreshing burst of preserved lemon. The couscous cooks to a creamy yet slightly chewy texture that serves as the perfect foil for the braised chicken. The recipe works beautifully and is easy to follow. I would add that any visible chicken fat be removed prior to browning, as I ended up with much more fat than needed to caramelize the onions and the dish was still quite rich.Sandra Gray

Serves 4 to 6

  • 2 teaspoons grapeseed oil (or another high heat oil)
  • 2 1/2 to 3 pounds chicken (I like a combo of skin-on/bone-in breasts and boneless/skinless thighs)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 medium to large yellow onions, thinly sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and mashed or pressed
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons ground allspice
  • 3 teaspoons sumac
  • 2 tablespoons chopped preserved lemon
  • 1 cup pearled (Israeli) couscous
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken broth
  1. Sprinkle the chicken with the 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Set a Dutch oven or brasier over medium-high heat, pour in the grapeseed oil, and when hot, brown the chicken pieces really well. Then, remove and set them aside but don’t rinse out the pan.
  2. Reduce the burner to medium, and let the pot cool down for a couple minutes. Then add the olive oil to the pot, plus the onions and garlic and half a teaspoon of kosher salt. Caramelize the onions, stirring occasionally and adding some chicken stock if the pan gets dry. Preheat the oven to 400° F.
  3. While the onions are cooking, mix together the sumac, a teaspoon of kosher salt, the cinnamon, and the ground allspice. When onions are caramelized, sprinkle 75% of the spice mixture over them and stir well to combine. Add the chopped preserved lemon and stir to combine. Sprinkle rest of spice mixture over the reserved chicken and then nestle the pieces into the onions. Make a well in the center of the chicken-onion pile and pour in the uncooked Israeli couscous. Add the chicken broth, cover the pot tightly, and cook in the oven for 20 minutes. Uncover and cook an additional five minutes. Taste and season with more salt if need be. Serve warm, or cool and then chill until you want it.
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about 1 year ago Leslie David

The "more" link under Author Notes doesn't work.


about 1 year ago em-i-lis

Emily is a trusted source on General Cooking.'s working for me. Did you try switching browsers?


about 1 year ago Alexandra V. Jones

Wow this looks great! Gotta try it asap! Thanks for the great review for my couscous recipe! Congrats!


about 1 year ago em-i-lis

Emily is a trusted source on General Cooking.

Thank you so much, Alexandra!! Hope you like it! Congrats to you too!


about 1 year ago healthierkitchen

ooh this sounds good, and I'm always eager to use my preserved lemons!


about 1 year ago em-i-lis

Emily is a trusted source on General Cooking.

thanks, wendy! do you make your own preserved lems? awesome!! can't wait to try your pate! so happy for your win! :)