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Recipe: Chicken tzimmes with dates

2 hours. Serves 6

2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs or legs, patted dry

4 to 5 tablespoons grape seed oil or a vegetable oil, divided

1/4 cup date molasses (silan), or to taste, divided

2 large boiling potatoes (about 1 pound)

Salt and freshly ground pepper

2 pounds butternut squash, peeled and cut in 1-inch cubes

1 onion, chopped

White and pale green parts of 1 small leek, quartered, rinsed well and thinly sliced

1 small carrot, diced

1 celery rib, diced

1 tablespoon minced ginger root

2 cups chicken broth, more if desired

1 cup moist pitted small dates, such as Deglet Noor

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 tablespoon chopped Italian parsley

Bowl of date molasses (for serving)

1. Trim the excess fat from the chicken. Cut the chicken in 1½-inch pieces. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a heavy, shallow stew pot over medium-high heat. Add half of the chicken pieces and brown them lightly on all sides, about 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer the browned meat with a slotted spatula to a shallow bowl. Add 1 tablespoon oil to the pan and heat it. Brown the remaining chicken pieces and transfer them to the bowl. Spoon 2 tablespoons date molasses evenly over the chicken and mix gently.

2. Halve each potato and cut each half in 4 wedges about three-eighths-inch thick. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in the pan over medium heat. Add the potato wedges and cook, turning once, until they brown very lightly, about 10 minutes. Transfer them with a slotted spoon to a plate and sprinkle them with salt and pepper

3. If the pan is dry, add 1 tablespoon oil and heat it over medium heat. Add the butternut squash cubes, cover and cook them, stirring occasionally, until they soften and begin to brown, about 5 minutes. Transfer them with a slotted spoon to a bowl.

4. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil to the pan and heat it over medium-low heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally and scraping any browned bits in pan until the onion begins to brown, about 7 minutes. Add the leek, carrot and celery, and cook, stirring and scraping the pan occasionally, until the leeks soften, about 7 minutes. Add the ginger root and cook 1 minute.

5. Return the chicken, including the juices in the bowl, to the pan. Sprinkle with a pinch of pepper and salt, if desired, and heat 1 minute, stirring. Add 2 cups stock, or enough to cover the chicken about halfway. Bring to a simmer. Cover and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the chicken is just tender, about 15 minutes.

6. Return the butternut squash to the pan and mix it with the chicken. Top with the potato pieces. If you want a moister stew, add one-half cup stock. Bring to a simmer. Cover and cook over low heat, occasionally stirring gently, until the chicken is very tender and the potatoes and squash are cooked through, about 25 to 30 minutes. During cooking, if too much of the sauce evaporates, add a few more tablespoons of stock so that the stew is moist but not soupy.

7. Add the dates and heat through until they are plumped, about 3 or 4 minutes. Add the cinnamon and 1 tablespoon date molasses. Taste, and add more date molasses, salt and pepper if desired.

8. Spoon the stew into a shallow, heated serving bowl or casserole and sprinkle it with chopped parsley. Serve with a small bowl of date molasses for drizzling.

EACH SERVING

Calories 524

Protein 29 grams

Carbohydrates 63 grams

Fiber 7 grams

Fat 19 grams

Saturated fat 3 grams

Cholesterol 141 mg

Sugar 32 grams

Sodium 404 mg

NOTE: Date molasses, also known as date syrup and as silan in Israel, is available in Middle Eastern and kosher markets. If you are using kosher chicken, which is already salted, taste the sauce before adding any salt.

Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times
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