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Chicken, Lemon & Olive Stew

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Serves ten to twelve.

Warm, earthy spices infuse this savory stew, and olives and lemon add brightness. It’s perfect for casual entertaining because it tastes even better a day or two after it’s made.

  • 6 lb. boneless, skinless chicken thighs (about 25 thighs), trimmed of excess fat
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 large yellow onions, thinly sliced
  • 8 cloves garlic, crushed and peeled
  • 1 Tbs. ground turmeric
  • 2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 2 tsp. ground coriander
  • 3 small dried red chiles, preferably chile de Arbol, stemmed and crumbled
  • Two 3-inch cinnamon sticks
  • 2 fresh bay leaves or 1 dried
  • 1 quart lower-salt chicken broth
  • Finely grated zest and juice of 4 lemons
  • 2 cups canned chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 2 cups small pitted green olives, such as picholine or manzanilla
  • Saffron Couscous
  • 3 Tbs. chopped fresh cilantro or mint

Season the chicken all over with 2 tsp. salt and 2 tsp. pepper. Heat the oil in an 8-quart Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Working in batches so as not to crowd the pan, brown the chicken well all over, about 3 minutes per side, transferring each batch to a plate or bowl—it'll take about 4 batches and 24 minutes total to brown all the chicken. The bottom of the pan will be brown, but that's OK.

Reduce the heat to medium, add the onions and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally until the onions are softened and golden brown, 5 to 6 minutes. Add the turmeric, cumin, coriander, chiles, cinnamon sticks, and bay leaves and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 1 minute more. Add the chicken broth, lemon zest, and 1/2 cup of the lemon juice. Cover and simmer over medium-low heat for 30 minutes.

Return the chicken and any accumulated juices to the pot. Carefully stir in the chickpeas and olives. Increase the heat to medium high and simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the sauce has thickened somewhat and the chicken is cooked through, 6 to 8 minutes more. Stir in 1 Tbs. of the remaining lemon juice and season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve over the Saffron Couscous, sprinkled with the cilantro or mint.

Make Ahead Tips

This stew can be prepared and refrigerated up to 3 days ahead or frozen up to 1 month in advance. Reheat gently over medium-low heat, adding 1/2 cup water if the stew seems too thick.

nutrition information (per serving):
Size : (without couscous); Calories (kcal): 490; Fat (g): fat g 25; Fat Calories (kcal): 220; Saturated Fat (g): sat fat g 6; Protein (g): protein g 48; Monounsaturated Fat (g): 12; Carbohydrates (g): carbs g 18; Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 5; Sodium (mg): sodium mg 860; Cholesterol (mg): cholesterol mg 150; Fiber (g): fiber g 4;

Photo: Scott Phillips

Had this at a friends house and requested the recipe. I use quinoa instead of couscous and everyone loves this when I make it. It does make a large amount so I prepare this quite a bit when I have people over for dinner and then eat leftovers for lunch. Garnish with cilantro and serve with steamed broccoli....yum.

This is one of my all time favorite recipes. I've been making this for years ever since I got this issue and it continues to be a crowd pleaser.

The flavors are outstanding

Excellet ! this has become one of our favorate chicken stew recipes. I don't use the cinnamon - and use chipotle chili for some smoky heat. we fight for leftovers.

In one months time, I made this for everyone who happened to drop over! It is so delicious!

Turned out great. I used chicken tenders and substituted zucchini as we don't care for the olives. Great flavors and an easy recipe to put together.

This is a great simple recipe that grabbed us immediately and got added to our top list. The volume is a little much but I cut it down with a third the chicken and half the remainder and it even appealed to my wife who hates curry. You can leave out the chickpeas with no great problem but the accompaniments should be quite plain to complement the complex flavours. You must leave it stand for several days at least to meld the flavours.

I would never in a million years have put all these spices together. I usually like more Italian and New England dishes but this one caught my eye. I love chicken and lemons together. However I do not like olives or chickpeas so I just left them out. This dish is now the standard by which all of my future meals will be judged. I made half a recipe, and put in more dried Bay leave than called for- these were really old bay leaves. I am not sure what kind of dried red chilies I used- they were what I could fine in the suprmarket.

Made this as written but reduced it for 4. I was dissapointed. Not sure why, but the chicken had a very rubbery texture and the sauce was very bland. Would not try again.

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