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Braised Chicken with Dates and Moroccan Spices

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Braised Chicken with Dates and Moroccan Spices
    3 1/2 pounds  chicken breast halves, thighs, and drumsticks
    1 tablespoon  all purpose flour
    1 tablespoon  extra-virgin olive oil
    2 pounds  shallots, (about 11 large), peeled
    3  cinnamon sticks
    1 1/2 teaspoons  ground ginger
    1 teaspoon  ground cumin
    1/2 teaspoon  turmeric
    1/8 teaspoon  cayenne pepper
    3 cups  low-salt chicken broth
    5 tablespoons  fresh lemon juice, divided
    12  dates, pitted, halved
    1/4 cup  almonds, toasted, coarsely chopped
    1/4 cup  chopped fresh cilantro

Sprinkle chicken pieces with salt, pepper, and flour. Heat olive oil in heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Add half of chicken pieces to pot and cook until browned on all sides, turning occasionally, about 15 minutes. Transfer chicken to baking sheet or platter; repeat with remaining chicken. Pour off all but 2 tablespoons fat from pot and discard. Reduce heat to medium. Add shallots to pot; sauté until golden, about 6 minutes. Add cinnamon sticks, ginger, cumin, turmeric, and cayenne. Stir until fragrant, about 1 minute. Increase heat to high; add broth and 3 tablespoons lemon juice. Bring to boil; reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer until shallots begin to soften, about 18 minutes. Place chicken pieces atop shallots in pot. Bring to boil over medium heat. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until juices run clear when thickest part of drumstick is pierced with knife, about 25 minutes.
Transfer chicken and shallots to platter; tent with foil. Boil juices in pot until slightly thickened. Stir in dates and remaining 2 tablespoons lemon juice. Reduce heat and simmer gently until dates are heated through, about 2 minutes. Pour sauce and dates over chicken. Sprinkle with almonds and cilantro, and serve.

Bon Appétit
November 2010
by Joanne Weir

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