Lunch / Dinner
Braised Chicken with Lemon, Olives & Dried Plums
Think braising is out of the question for a weeknight? On the contrary! This chicken dish packs a flavorful punch, and can be on the table within the hour.
Braising is a moist-heat technique that works best for tough cuts of meat, but who’s to say you can’t use the same approach with chicken? Since it doesn’t need long braising to tenderize, chicken cooks quicker than something like ribs, so it’s more practical for weeknight dinners.
Braising involves three basic steps, all of which still apply to this dish: browning, deglazing, and braising. What has changed is the vessel. Exchange the more typical Dutch oven for a cast-iron skillet. The pan’s shallow sides allow you to apply weight to the chicken during browning, so more of the bird touches the pan, giving it better color.
Combining lemon, ginger, pimento-stuffed olives, and dried plums (or prunes) may seem unconventional, but when it comes to big flavor, this dish stands united.
Test Kitchen Tips
Dredge the chicken in flour and brown it, not only to give it color, but also to render some of the fat from the meat before braising it in the sauce.
Plums can be divided into two main categories: Japanese and European. European varieties are more suited to drying. Dried plums are nutrientdense, providing many health benefits.
Preheat oven to 350°.
Cut backbone out of chicken with kitchen shears. Cut chicken in half down the center of the breastbone.
Combine flour, salt, black pepper, paprika, and pepper flakes. Dredge both sides of chicken halves in flour mixture to coat; reserve remaining flour.
Heat oil in a cast-iron skillet over medium-high. Add chicken, skin side down; place another skillet on top and weigh down with heavy cans. Sauté chicken until well browned, about 8 minutes. Flip halves over and brown other side, 8 minutes more. Remove chicken from skillet and drain all but 1 Tbsp. drippings.
Sauté onion, carrot, celery, garlic, ginger, and tomato paste in skillet drippings until softened, 5 minutes. Add reserved flour mixture, stirring to coat vegetables; cook 1 minute.
Deglaze pan with broth, wine, and apple juice; bring to a simmer. Add chicken, breast sides up; cover skillet and transfer to the oven. Braise chicken until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part registers 170°, 30–40 minutes. Transfer skillet to the stove top. Transfer chicken to a plate and tent with foil.
Add plums and olives to the skillet and simmer to intensify flavors, 5 minutes. Stir in zest, lemon juice, and parsley. Serve chicken with sauce mixture.
To split a chicken, first remove the backbone by cutting along either side of it with kitchen shears.
Cut the chicken in half with a chef’s knife, using your hands to bend back and remove the breastbone.
So the chicken cooks quicker, weight it down (on the skin side only) using a skillet and some heavy cans.