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