This dish tastes very rich; it’s perfect for cold winter days. Serve with m’jedrah (Rice with Lentils), riz (Basic Syrian Rice), or orzo and a simple green salad.
Yield: Serves 4 to 6
2 cups pitted prunes, soaked in 1 cup cold water for 15 minutes
¼ cup honey
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
5 to 5½ pounds chicken pieces (white and dark meat), skinned
¼ cup olive oil
1 cup finely chopped yellow onions
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Three 3-inch-long cinnamon sticks
2 cups cold water
1 cup blanched whole almonds, toasted in a dry skillet over medium heat until golden
1. Prepare the sauce. Place the prunes and soaking water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes. Add the honey and cinnamon. Mix well and simmer until the prunes absorb some water and soften (they should be soft yet retain most of their shape), about 5 more minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside.
2. Prepare the chicken. Rinse the chicken under cold running water and pat dry with paper towels. Place on a plate.
3. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat and cook the onions, stirring, until golden and soft, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the chicken pieces and brown, cooking for 2 to 3 minutes on each side. Add the salt, pepper, cinnamon sticks, and water, stir well, and bring to a slow boil over medium-high heat. Pour the sauce over the chicken. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, covered, for 1 hour.
4. Uncover the skillet and cook until some of the excess liquid cooks off and the sauce has thickened to a gravy-like texture, an additional 20 to 30 minutes.
5. Serve in large platter, garnished with the toasted almonds.
When my great-grandmother Esther decided to visit her mother in Isreal after Grandma Fritzie got married, she took her two youngest children, Evelyn and Seymour, with her, and left fourteen-year-old Adele in charge of her father, Matloub. Adele hadn’t a clue about cooking. The worst time of the week was when she sat with her finicky father to plan for Shabbat. Luckily Mary Hidary, Grandma Fritzie’s new sister-in-law, would often show up unannounced on Friday afternoon just before Shabbat, bringing Adele a pan filled with fragrant roasted chicken surrounded by mounds of friend potatoes.