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Friday, October 8, 2010

cinnamon basil chicken

jerry traunfeld continues to rock my world. he combines seemingly unlikely flavors with such surprising and delicious results, and it's kind of thrilling to know that when i cook one of his recipes i'll likely encounter flavors i've never experienced before. (peaches and tarragon? of course!) this time, chicken simmers in tomatoes, much like a cacciatore, but is punctuated with cinnamon, basil, and fresh ginger. this dish is, without question, going in the rotation-- i knew it on the first bite.

cinnamon basil chicken
adapted from jerry traunfeld's the herbal kitchen

1 frying chicken, about 4-5 lbs, cut into 8 pieces with backbone removed (save back for making stock!)
salt and pepper
2 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 large onion, sliced into long thin strips from root end to top
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 1/2 Tbsp finely chopped fresh ginger
28 ounces diced fresh tomatoes with juice (or 28-oz can diced tomatoes, with half of juice drained)
3 3-inch cinnamon sticks (jerry suggests "true" cinnamon if you can find it, but i just used whole sticks from the grocery)
3 star anise pods (i couldn't find any so left them out)
1 1/2 cups torn fresh sweet basil, or cinnamon basil

season chicken parts with salt and pepper. heat olive oil over medium heat in large skillet with tight-fitting lid. (i actually used a big heavy-bottom soup pot since it was the biggest thing i had to accommodate the chicken.) add chicken to pot, skin-side down, and cook until skin is golden brown, 6-8 minutes. flip chicken and cook another 2-3 minutes. remove from pan and set aside.

add the onion, garlic, and ginger to the pan. (this is when it starts to smell so good!) cook, stirring, for a few minutes until they soften and begin to brown. (at this point, i  deglazed with about a tablespoon or two of sherry-- there were so many browned bits left from the chicken that i wanted to make sure i got every little morsel into the sauce!) add the tomatoes, cinnamon sticks, star anise (if using), and 1 tsp kosher salt. return chicken to pan. bring the mixture to a simmer, cover, and reduce heat to low. cook about 50 minutes, maintaining a low simmer. check chicken for doneness. if chicken is cooked through and sauce is still watery, you can remove the chicken and cook the sauce uncovered over medium-high heat until it thickens. 

scatter with basil, toss, and serve immediately. 

chicken from stokesberry farm
onion and garlic from alvarez farm
tomatoes and basil from our garden


  1. This sounds so delicious. I'm definitely going to have to try this one.

  2. try it and let me know how it goes!