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Chicken And Tomato Stew With Caramelized Lemon

From Bon Appetit, February 2018. “Cinnamon’s sweet, earthy flavor tames tomatoes’ juicy acidity.” This can be made 3 days ahead (without mint). Let cool, cover and chill. Add mint, lemons, and sesame seeds just before serving. -Note, the photo shows chicken legs with bone, but I did it the second time with boneless, skinless thighs, and I shredded them before returning to the stew. The sauces cling better with pulled chicken. And the final simmering time was much shorter (25 vs. 80 minutes) by using boneless thighs. Allow 2 hours if using bone-in chicken.

Serves 4people
chicken legs (thigh and drumstick, or substitute boneless skinless thighs)
Tb olive oil, divided
large onion, thinly sliced
garlic cloves, halved
Tb honey
Tb tomato paste
tsp ground turmeric
tsp cinnamon
oz can whole, peeled tomatoes (although I used diced, with basil, garlic, and
oregano; it worked, and you don’t need to spend time smashing the whole tomatoes)
cups low sodium chicken broth (I found this to be a bit bland, and added “Better Than
Broth- chicken” concentrate to boost the flavor)
1 1/2
tsp sugar1 TB toasted sesame seeds
cup torn mint
Flatbread (for serving, though we thought a baguette was better for sopping up the broth)
Pat chicken dry and season with salt. Let sit 15 minutes and up to an hour (or cover and chill for up to 24 hours). (You can be slicing onions and garlic while it rests.)
Heat 2 Tb oil in large Dutch oven or heavy pot over medium high. Cook chicken, adjusting heat as needed to avoid scorching, until deep golden brown on both sides, about 10-12 minutes (you may need less with boneless). Transfer chicken to plate, leaving drippings behind. (If desired, shred chicken while waiting for onion to cook in next step.
Add onion to pot and cook, stirring often, until softened, about 6-8 minutes.
Add garlic and cook, stirring often until onion begins to brown around the edges, about 3 minutes. (Be measuring out ingredients for next step while this cooks.)
Stir in honey, tomato paste, turmeric, and cinnamon; cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes.
Add tomatoes and juices and smash tomatoes with a wooden spoon until pieces are no larger than 1” (hence, use diced tomatoes!)
Return chicken to pot, pour in broth (it should barely cover chicken), and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to low, mostly cover pot with lid (to allow steam to escape) and gently simmer until chicken is tender and juices thicken (70-80 minutes for bone-in, but 20-25 min for boneless).
MEANWHILE, Caramelize the lemons and toast the sesame seeds. Cooking the lemon slices just to just shy of burnt adds a layer of complex flavor to the stew. (These can be done ahead of time, but add just before serving, with the mint.)
To caramelize the lemon, trim the top and bottom from the lemon, perch on a flat end, and cut lengthwise into quarters.
Remove seeds and white pith in the center.
Thinly slice quarters crosswise (1/4” thick slices) into quarter moons.
Place in a medium skillet, pour n water to cover, and bring to a boil.
Cook 3 minutes, then drain and pat dry with paper towels (boiling in water softens them and removes excess bitterness).
Transfer to a small bowl, sprinkle with sugar, and toss to coat.
Wipe out skillet and heat remaining 2 TB olive oil over medium-high.
Arrange lemon pieces in a single layer in skillet, and cook, turning halfway through, until deeply browned in most spots, about 3 minutes.
Transfer back to bowl and season with salt.
To toast sesame seeds, put them in a small, dry skillet and heat over medium-high, stirring and watching carefully until they start to turn golden (they may start to pop out of the pan, a sign they are nearly done and need stirring). Empty quickly onto a separate dish to prevent burning.
Ladle stew into bowls or onto plates, and top with caramelized lemons, sesame seeds, and torn mint leaves. Serve with flatbread or baguettes.
If serving with a vegetable that needs cooking, the stew can cook a little longer (or sit on low warm heat) while you make the veggie.
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