When it comes to poultry, The Hubs favors the dark meat and I most often prefer the white meat. What’s nice about this Senegalese Braised Chicken with Onions and Lime recipe is you can use a combination of both and make everyone happy. And happy is the name of the game when you’ve been hunkered down together for months (thanks COVID).
Don’t let the name fool you. With just a few ingredients, “Yassa Ginaar” delivers multiple layers of flavor—savory yet sweet with lightly caramelized onions, citrusy with lime zest and juice, meaty from the deeply browned chicken, and slightly spicy from the heat of a habañero chili. This version from Milk Street is based on a recipe in “Yolele!” by Pierre Thiam, who marinates then sears the chicken, then uses the marinade as a base for the flavorful sauce.
Bouillon concentrate adds to the savoriness of the dish. As it is for Milk Street, our preferred brand is Better than Bouillon. We paired our entrée with a side of sautéed spinach in roasted garlic olive oil and jasmine rice steamed in homemade chicken stock. A side of creamy mashed potatoes would work easily as well for the saucy onion bed.
Keep in mind that you don’t want to marinate the chicken for longer than two hours; the acidity of the lime juice will soften the meat and turn it mushy. Likewise, don’t use an uncoated cast-iron pot. The lime’s acidity will react with the metal, causing the sauce to taste metallic—not necessarily a flavor enhancer in our book!
Senegalese Braised Chicken with Onions and Lime
- 4 Tbsp. peanut oil, divided
- 3 Tbsp. grated lime zest, plus 6 tablespoons lime juice
- 1 habanero chili, seeded and minced
- Kosher salt and ground black pepper
- 2 tsp. chicken bouillon concentrate
- 2 lbs. bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts, thighs or drumsticks, trimmed
- 3 medium yellow onions, halved and thinly sliced
- Finely chopped fresh chives, to serve
- In a small bowl, stir together 3 tablespoons of oil, the lime zest, habanero, 1 tablespoon salt and 1 teaspoon pepper. Transfer 2 teaspoons of the mixture to a pinch pot and set aside.
- To the remaining oil-zest mixture, whisk in the lime juice, bouillon and ¼ cup water. Place the chicken and onions in a large ziploc bag, add the oil-zest mixture, seal and toss. Let marinate at room temperature for 1 hour or refrigerate up to 2 hours, turning once.
- Set a colander over a large bowl and strain the contents of the ziploc. Remove the chicken and pat dry with paper towels. Reserve both the marinade and the onions for later.
- In a large Dutch oven over medium-high, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon oil until barely smoking. Add the chicken, skin side down, and cook until well browned, about 4-5 minutes.
- Transfer to a plate and pour off and discard all but 1 tablespoon of the fat. Set the pot over medium heat and stir in the onions and ¼ cup water, scraping up any browned bits.
- Cover and cook, stirring frequently, until the onions are softened and lightly browned, 15 to 20 minutes.
- Stir the reserved marinade into the onions. Return the chicken, skin side up, nestling the pieces into the sauce, and pour in any accumulated juices. Reduce to medium-low, cover and cook until a skewer inserted into the thickest part meets no resistance, about 20-25 minutes.
- Using a slotted spoon, transfer the chicken to a serving platter or shallow bowl. If the saucy onions appear too watery, reduce them down, uncovered, for 10-15 minutes at a rolling simmer to thicken. Off heat, stir the reserved oil-zest mixture into the onions, then taste and season with salt and pepper.
- Spoon the onions and sauce around the chicken and sprinkle with chives.
Adapted from a recipe found on Milk Street