Chicken with Caramelized Onions and Honey

One of the reasons I wanted to start a blog was to force me to actually cook some recipes from all the cookbooks I have. In the Internet age, I all too often bookmark a recipe to try and ignore my huge bookshelf full of all sorts of cookbooks: slow-cooker recipes, cuisines from around the world, Julia Child and Anthony Bourdain.

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(Do I ever make those Internet recipes I so diligently bookmark? Questionable. Like most people I stick to the same dozen or so basic meals and tend to just make variations on a theme.)

So during my recent furlough/vacation, I resolved to sit down with some of my cookbooks and make notes on which I’d like to cook soon.

I got through 3.5 books in almost 3 weeks.

But this! This is one of the recipes I decided to try. It is from Arabesque by Claudia Roden. I received it as a gift years ago, I’m not exactly sure why I wanted it considering I have never really had much any Moroccan, Turkish, or Lebanese cuisine. But I remember the flavors and ideas appealing to me then and they still did when I poured through it again last week.

I chose this dish because, well, I had (almost) all the ingredients on hand and it was declared one of the “classics” of Moroccan cooking. Sold. I was actually a little concerned about the spices and the honey, which seemed more like they belonged in a pie than a chicken dinner. But I trusted the recipe, something I don’t always do, and I was richly rewarded. You will be too.

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Chicken with Caramelized Onions and Honey (Djaj Bill Assal)

Adapted from Arabesque. Makes about 3 servings; takes about an hour start to finish but there is plenty of down time while the onions reduce. Make sure you use a pan that is large enough that you can lay all the chicken pieces out in one layer without crowding the pan. Serve with a couscous salad, perhaps?
  • 2 large onions, sliced thin
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • pinch of saffron (I used 1/4 tsp tumuric since I don’t have saffron [yet])
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 lb chicken thighs (I used boneless skinless)
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • S&P (heavy on the pepper)
  1. Heat the oil in the pan over medium-low heat, add the onions and begin to cook them. Don’t rush this by turning up the heat! Once they are starting to turn golden, add the spices and a bit of S&P. Partially cover the pan and cook the onions, stirring occasionally, until the onions become caramel-colored and reduced, about 25 minutes.
  2. Move the onions to the sides of the pan and add the chicken. Cook, partially covered for about 10 minutes. Flip and cook through, 5-8 minutes more.
  3. Move the chicken to a serving dish. Stir the honey into the onions and sauce. Taste, add a liberal sprinkling of fresh cracked pepper to assuage the sweetness. Spoon over the chicken and serve.
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