Saturday, December 4, 2010

Chicken stew with lemon, olives and figs (slow cooker or stovetop)

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I have learned several things in the nearly two years I've been blogging about food:
  1. I make a lot of stew.
  2. It is very, very hard to take a good picture of stew.
  3. I am terrible at remembering to hold back ingredients or undercook dishes in order to make a better photograph.
  4. Garnish? What garnish?
This lemon chicken recipe is a case in point. I make it often because it's easy, delicious, and well loved in my family. I've wanted to write about it for a year but haven't because I've been unable to get a good shot. That ends today. I must share the lemon chicken recipe with you. You must have the recipe. Today.

I use boneless, skinless chicken thighs because they get ultra-tender and fall apart with long, slow cooking. The base of the stew is extremely simple: onions, garlic, lemon, a few herbs. I add some olives and a squeeze of honey. And this time I also put in dried figs, since I'm still working my way through the 16-pound bags of figs graciously given to me by the California Fig Advisory Board. The figs work perfectly with the Mediterranean flavors in this recipe; if you like a little sweet in your savory, do add the figs.

I served this lemon chicken with potato latkes for our Hanukkah dinner. I got up early, got the stew into the slow cooker, and left it to cook all day on low while I was at work. When I got home I discovered that someone had turned off the slow cooker. Uh-oh. Fortunately, two hours on the stovetop in a cast iron pot did the trick. It's always good to have a backup plan.

Chicken stew with lemon, olives and figs
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 large onions, diced
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 10-12 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • zest and juice of 4 medium lemons
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 branches each fresh thyme and rosemary
  • 2 Tbsp honey
  • 2/3 cup pitted Kalamata olives
  • 1/2 cup dried figs, chopped (optional)
In a large pot, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Saute the onions until translucent, about 4 minutes; add the garlic and saute another 1 minute (do not let the garlic burn). Add the chicken, lemon zest and juice, salt and pepper, herbs, honey, olives and figs. Bring the pot to a boil, turn down the heat, cover the pot, and cook over very low heat. Check the pot after 30 minutes; the chicken should release enough liquid to keep everything moist, but if it looks dry, add a little water or chicken stock.

Cook about two hours, or until the chicken is tender and falling apart, and the rest of the stew is soft and bubbling gently. Serve over rice. The lemon chicken stew will be even better on the second day, as most stews are.

Slow cooker method: Put all ingredients in the slow cooker in this order: onions, garlic, herbs, chicken, lemon zest, lemon juice, honey, olives, figs, salt and pepper. Cook on low 8-10 hours.


Rhonda said...

You're right, stew isn't very photogenic. Lemon and chicken are a match made in heaven!

BonnieBanters said...

What a perfect dish to serve w/latkes since they're attention demanding and best served straight from the pan! We literally ate them straight from the pan this year along w/an appetizer buffet - such fun! Next year maybe we'll have your stew w/our latkes!
You're a delight - thanks for sharing and Happy Chanukah!

RidiculouslyFU said...

still looks delicious to me!

Monet said...

Personally, I think this soup looks great (but I do agree that stew is a hard one to photograph) Not only does this look great, but I'm sure it tastes even better. How can you go wrong with olives and figs? Now if only I could have a bowl and some latkes right now! Thank you so much for sharing. Have a beautiful Sunday!

Dorothy at Shockinglydelicious said...

Wow does this look tasty! Reading the ingredients and your description reminds me of Chicken Marbella from the Silver Palate. Right?

Erika Kerekes said...

@Dorothy - no, not exactly like Chicken Marbella. That is much more sweet and sour. In this stew, lemon is the predominant flavor, and the honey is there just to cut the acid a little. In Chicken Marbella, it's truly agrodolce - no lemon, but a lot of vinegar.

Patti at Worth The Whisk said...

You had me at chicken thighs, and then with lemon, FABULOUS. I agree that photographing anything with meat is incredibly hard. Glad you went with the dutch oven setting, it reads well.

Candace said...

This looks fabulous! I am going to have to make this soon.

Margaret Studer said...

This recipe could come from the Mediterranean Diet book. It is very healthy.

I love cooking with chicken thighs in liquid. They absorb the flavor so much better than the breasts that they make the whole dish more flavorful.

~ Chef Louise said...

erika, i love the flavor combination in this stew... sweet and savory are my favorite. stew is hard to shoot and make look pretty, but everyone knows it's delicious! nice to see you~

Rivki Locker said...

What a wonderful combination of flavors - figs, olives and lemons: WOW! The photo is great too. And I live the idea of serving this with latkes. Sounds fantastic!

showfoodchef said...

Lemon, figs and olives - Oh My, Love it! Great family meal, thx for sharing it.

Sippity Sup said...

When you have food that tastes like this I don't need no stinkin' garnish. GREG

Rebecca Coffey said...

I'm making this tomorrow night. Thanks for posting!

Erika Kerekes said...

Rebecca - hope you like it - do come back and let me know! It's one of my favorites.

Lauren said...

So delicious. I used rabbit instead of chicken, and threw in a couple of potatoes instead of serving it over rice. I'm definitely going to be saving this recipe, so thanks for posting it!

Nikki | Days With Us said...

Hi Ericka. I made this stew last night in my slow cooker, and it was delicious. Can't wait for leftovers tonight. Thank you! So glad I found your blog.

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