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Braised Chicken Legs with Carrot Juice, Dates & Spices

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Serves four.

The carrot juice and dates lend sweetness to this Moroccan-inspired braise. Serve over couscous or rice.

  • 4 bone-in, skin-on medium chicken thighs (1-1/2 to 1-3/4 lb.)
  • 4 chicken drumsticks (1-1/4 to 1-1/2 lb.)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 Tbs. vegetable oil
  • 1 large red onion, peeled and thinly sliced (about 3 cups)
  • 1 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1-1/4 cups carrot juice
  • 3/4 cup homemade or low-salt canned chicken broth
  • 1/2 lb. (10 to 12) Medjool dates, pitted and halved lengthwise (or 6 whole pitted prunes or dried apricots)
  • 2 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
  • 2 Tbs. chopped fresh cilantro

Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 350ºF.

Season the chicken pieces generously with salt and pepper. In a straight-sided 10- or 11- inch ovenproof sauté pan with a lid, heat the oil over medium-high heat until very hot. Arrange the chicken pieces skin side down in the pan (it’ll be crowded), cover with a splatter screen, if you have one, and cook until deeply browned, about 5 minutes. Turn the pieces over and cook until the other sides are deeply browned, 3 to 5 minutes more. Transfer to a plate. Pour out and discard all but 1 Tbs. of the fat in the pan.

Put the pan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring frequently, until it’s soft and begins to color, 6 to 8 minutes. Add the ginger, cinnamon, and cumin and stir into the onions for about 1 minute. Pour in the carrot juice and broth and bring to a boil, scraping the browned bits from the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. Return the chicken pieces to the pan, along with any accumulated juices. If using prunes or apricots, add them now. Cover, transfer to the oven, and braise for 15 minutes. Add the dates, if using, and continue to braise until the chicken is fork-tender and the drumstick meat starts to come away from the bone, 30 to 35 minutes more.

With a slotted spoon, transfer the chicken and dried fruit to a serving dish and keep warm by covering the dish loosely with foil. Tilt the sauté pan and skim off as much fat as possible from the sauce. Bring the sauce to a boil over medium-high heat, reduce the heat to medium-low, and simmer until the sauce is slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Add the lemon juice and season to taste with salt and pepper. Pour the sauce over the chicken, sprinkle with the chopped cilantro, and serve.

Drink Suggestions

Pair it with a dry rosé from California or southern France, like the Sola Rosa from California.

nutrition information (per serving):
Size : based on four servings; Calories (kcal): 550; Fat (g): fat g 24; Fat Calories (kcal): 210; Saturated Fat (g): sat fat g 5; Protein (g): protein g 33; Monounsaturated Fat (g): 9; Carbohydrates (g): carbs g 56; Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 7; Sodium (mg): sodium mg 690; Cholesterol (mg): cholesterol mg 105; Fiber (g): fiber g 6;

Photo: Scott Phillips

I was pleasantly surprised how easy and healthy and delicious this turned out. The carrot juice reduces down beautifully leaving a rich, thick sauce. Fabulous!

Outstanding recipe, and easy to make ahead. I prepared it up to the point of thickening the sauce, then let it cool slightly and refrigerated until dinnertime. A slow reheat allowed the sauce to thicken on its own. Following another reviewer, I used a combination of prunes and apricots, along with a full teaspoon of cumin. Wonderful flavors...everyone loved this dish. Thanks for a great recipe.

This was absolutely DELICIOUS! We used the dried prunes which were wonderful! I also made pearl couscous with this and just completed the dish! A++++++++

I made this recipe for the first time for company. I used prunes instead of dates and 1 tsp of cumin instead of 1/2. It was absolutely delicious! My husband has suggested I try it with raisins next time, however I think I would prefer to add more prunes. I also braised it for longer in the oven and the chicken just fell off the bone. I used a creuset cocotte, the best braising pot in the world because it keeps everything moist.

We loved this dish. I know I'll make it often. Used 3 red onions because one did not amount to anywhere near 3 cups, and there was definitely not too much onion. Even better the next day.

A great recipe. Based on some of the other comments, I used a few less dates and it turned out great. I actually cooked this in a tagine and it worked out really well - very juicy. We had the leftovers with mashed potatoes and it was as good the second time.

I omitted the dried fruit as I didn't have any on hand but the recipe was tasty all the same, particularly on the 2nd and 3rd day. This will definitely be on my menu many times in the future.

I thought this was decent and very easy to make, and the carrot juice gave the sauce a nice body. I used apricots instead of dates. I think it needs a little more zip to balance the sweetness - I added some more lemon juice when I reheated the leftovers, as well as a bit of sriracha sauce and liked it better that way - up to four stars!

Terrific recipe. My only puzzle was over the Medjool dates. I finally figured out (or at least decided) that given the quantity called for, the recipe must be referring to fresh dates. I substituted dried dates, using a bit more than than the number of prunes mentioned as an alternative. It turned out fantastic.

Dish is easy and delicious. I substituted dried apricots for the dates. I think the carrot juice is an essential ingredient - it's thick and provides a good backdrop for the other seasonings.

I've made this about 5 times and it's wonderful. The spices and dates give it an exotic flavor. It's easy enough for a weekday dinner, but special enough for guests.

This dish is fabulous! I sometimes even make a gravy with the juices and have it with mashed potatoes. It's been a big hit every time I've made it. I often forget the amounts of spices if I don't have the recipe with me and each time it has been wonderful. It creates a beautiful deep orange sauce and the chicken becomes very tender.

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