Citrus and Soy Braised Chicken with Farro and Dates

SERVES: 4

This recipe is designed to be flex when it comes to the citrus, but make sure to grab a mix of both sweet and sour things to ensure a balanced sauce. Any variety of sweet citrus can replace the called for oranges (sumos, mandarins, etc), and any sour citrus can replace the lemons (limes, meyer lemons, yuzu etc.)

Active Time: 55 Mins

Total Time: 1 hr 30 mins

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Produce

  • 2 red onions
  • 1 head of garlic
  • 4” piece of ginger
  • 3 oranges
  • 2 lemons/and or limes
  • 1 small bunch cilantro
  • Extra virgin olive oil (California Olive Ranch olio nuovo is incredible here!), for drizzling

Pantry

  • kosher salt, freshly ground black pepper
  • 5 large, juicy Medjoul dates
  • 1 cup pearled farro or barley
  • ⅓ cup low sodium soy sauce
  • ¼ cup unseasoned rice vinegar
  • ¾ teaspoon red pepper flakes

Protein

  • 3 large or 4 small bone in, skin on chicken legs or 6 thighs

1. Do some prep:

  • Preheat oven to 325.
  • Season 4 chicken legs all over with salt and pepper.
  • Thinly slice about ¼ of a red onion and set aside. Cut the rest of the 2 red onions into 1 ½ ” wedges through the root end (discard the skins and trim the hairy bits off the ends.)
  • Cut 1 head of garlic in half crosswise. Thinly slice 4” piece of ginger into planks (no need to peel).
  • Remove the pits from 5 large juicy Medjoul dates; tear the dates into bite sized pieces.
  • In a large measuring cup, squeeze juice of 2 oranges and 2 lemons or limes. You should have a generous 1 cup liquid after squeezing. Stir in ⅓ cup soy sauce, and ¼ cup unseasoned rice vinegar, 1 ½ teaspoons salt, ¾ teaspoon red pepper flakes.

2. Brown chicken:

  • Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large Dutch oven over medium high heat until beginning to smoke. Arrange the chicken, skin side down and cook until deeply golden and crisp, and the skin easily releases from the pan, 8-12 min. If it doesn’t release, it’s not ready yet! Transfer to a platter.
  • Add the onion wedges, season with salt, arrange in a single layer and cook until charred underneath, 8-10 minutes. Scoot the onions to the side of the pot, and add the halved garlic. Cook until the garlic is just beginning to brown at the edges, 30 seconds to 1 minute.
  • Stir in 3 cups of water, the citrus soy mixture, and the sliced ginger and dates.
  • Cut the stems off 1 bunch of cilantro, tie them up with some kitchen twine or a rubber band and throw the cilantro bundle into the pot. This is called a bouquet garni–it will perfume the liquid as it cooks and we’ll discard it later on. Bring the liquid to a simmer. Once simmering, stir in 1 cup pearled farro until well distributed.
    Nestle the chicken back in, skin side up. Cover the pot, transfer to the oven. Cook for just 35 minutes, until the farro is no longer al dente and the chicken is just cooked through. The braising liquid should be brothy, not overly thick and porridge like, so add a splash of water if needed. Pluck out and discard the cilantro stems, and garlic. If big pieces of ginger bother you, you can pluck those out as well–they’ve imparted lots of flavor.
  • OPTIONAL LEVEL UP: if you want to go the extra mile and reclaim that crispy chicken skin that once was, preheat your broiler and arrange a rack a few inches from the top. Just before serving, transfer the chicken, skin side up to a baking sheet and place under the broiler. Cook until the skin is blistered and crisp, keeping an eye on things as it can go quickly, 1-3 minutes depending on your broiler.

3. Make the cilantro citrus salad and serve:

  • While the chicken braises, add a big pinch of salt and a couple glugs of unseasoned rice vinegar to the reserved thinly sliced red onion. Toss to combine. Remove the pith of the remaining orange. Chop the orange into bite sized pieces, and toss with the onions. Let sit to pickle while the chicken cooks.
  • Just before serving, coarsely chop the leaves from the rest of the bunch of cilantro, and toss them with the pickled onions and orange.
  • Divide the farro and chicken among serving bowls. Top each one with a big pile of cilantro orange salad. Drizzle each bowl with extra virgin olive oil and serve.

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