Being an Israeli cook in America, summer becomes the most comfortable time of the year in the kitchen, when eggplants, tomatoes and zucchini reach their peak.
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But as fall rolls in, it becomes harder to recreate the Mediterranean flavor at home. Parsnip, winter squashes and Brussels sprouts just aren’t the first veggies that come to mind when you think of a cuisine shaped by sunny summers and clear skies.
It doesn’t have to be that way. After all, the real key to Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cooking is the use of fresh and seasonal produce as the main ingredient, and with that in mind, I tried the recipe below. I used five pounds of fall favorite produce, like Brussels sprouts, sweet potato, fennel, butternut squash. Then I braised them in an aromatic mixture of coconut milk, tamarind, orange, turmeric and star anise. Add chicken on top and you get a full meal, fit for American-fall, but with an Israeli accent.
Braised chicken with fall vegetables
A one-pot meal that’s both easy to make and delicious to eat, delivering the bounty of fall vegetables to your dinner table in about one hour.
The sauce is so delicious that I would recommend serving the dish with thick slices of challah.
4-5 lb. mix of hard vegetables, such as potatoes, sweet potatoes, fennel, Brussels sprouts, butternut squash and onions
1 can (13.5 fl. oz., 400 ml) coconut milk
2 tablespoons tamarind paste
1 teaspoon turmeric
2-3 star anise (optional)
1-2 cups chicken broth
6 chicken thighs or legs, skin on
1.Oven to 375 degrees. Grease a large 12” round 3” deep oven-proof pan.
2.Peel potato, sweet potato, squash and any other vegetable you use that needs peeling. Dice all vegetables to about 2 inch cubes. Wash orange and cut to 8 wedges, leaving peel on. Transfer to pan. Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon kosher salt and mix.
3.In a medium bowl mix coconut milk, tamarind, turmeric and star anise. Pour over vegetables, add 1-2 cups of chicken broth to reach about ¾ way of the vegetables.
4.Generously sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper and massage the seasoning into its skin. Arrange chicken on top of vegetables, skin side up, and push it a little into the liquid. Bring to boil over medium-high heat, then simmer for 10 minutes (you may need to reduce heat to medium). Baste chicken occasionally.
5.Transfer pan into oven uncovered and cook for 45-50 minutes, basting every 15 minutes, until chicken skin is golden-brown and crispy and vegetables are tender. Remove from oven and let sit for 5-10 minutes before serving.