Here’s a modified version of a recipe that hasn’t graced my table for a couple of years. I don’t know why; I really liked it. The original recipe comes from “The Complete Whole Grains Cookbook”, however, by simply omitting the couscous, this is paleo. This time around I decided to use a whole chicken rather than chicken breasts. I was also curious to see how it would work in a crock pot, so I gave it a whirl. I am happy with the results.
The cinnamon spiked dried plums really give this dish its flavor. Dried Plums by any other name are just prunes, but dried plums sounds so much more appetizing! The cinnamon spiked fruit makes for a sweet and flavorful sauce — and if it helps keep you regular, extra bonus! This recipe is for the crock pot variation I made tonight. I’ll also include the stove-top directions below the crock pot recipe if you prefer to try that.
1 cup pitted prunes
1 tsp cinnamon (I recommend fresh ground if you have a spice grinder)
1 whole chicken (about 4 pounds) – rinsed and patted dry
3 onions – halved and thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic – minced
2 Tbsp fresh ginger root – minced
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp salt
1 tsp finely grated lemon zest
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp black pepper (fresh ground recomended)
2 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 tsp saffron threads disolved in 2 Tbsp boiling water
1 tsp honey
1/2 tsp allspice for rubbing on chicken (optional)
Toasted sliced almonds (optional)
The cinnamon spiked prunes are made separately. You can make them the night before or while reducing the broth from the crock pot.
In a saucepan, combine the prunes and cinnamon and cover with cold water (Only add enough water to cover the prunes). Bring to boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered until prunes are soft and water has been absorbed, about 30 minutes. Set prunes aside (can be made the night before and stored in the fridge). ( FYI: When I made this, I increased amount of prunes to 1.5 cups, but found it to be too much. Stick with the 1 cup recommended in the recipe)
Place onions in the bottom of the crock pot. Add garlic, ginger, cumin, salt, papper, cayenne, lemon zest, lemon juice, and saffron liquid.
Place chicken on top of onions and spices. Rub the allspice (optional) on the top of the chicken to give it a little color and a little extra flavor. Crock pot contents can be assembled in the pot the night before and stored in the fridge until morning. No need to add any liquid. The chicken will make plenty of broth.
Cook in the crock pot on low for 8 hours. Remove cooked chicken from crock pot. It’ll probably fall apart. Be sure to remove all of the bones and chicken. Cover plate of chicken with foil to keep warm.
For the sauce: Transfer contents of the crockpot (broth and onions) into a skillet or saucepan. Cook on medium-high heat to reduce the liquid by about one-third to one-half depending on how thick you like your sauce. Add the reserved cinnamon prunes and heat through. Spoon sauce over the chicken, garnish with almonds (optional), and serve.
If you prefer to use chicken breasts (either bone-in or boneless) you can use the following stove-top directions. Cooking time will be much less for boneless skinless chicken.
In addition to the ingredients above, you will also need 1 Tbsp of cocnut or olive oil and 1-1/2 cups of reduced sodium chicken stock. In place of the whole chicken, use 2 pounds of skin-on bone-in chicken breasts or about 1.25 pounds of boneless skinless chicken breasts.
Prepare the prunes as for the crock pot version above.
In skillet, heat oil in pan over medium heat. Add chicken, in batches if necessary, and cook, turning once, until browned. Transfer to a plate.
Add onions to skillet and cook until they begin to brown. Add garlic, ginger, cumin, salt, lemon zest, cayenne, and black pepper. Cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add lemon juice, chicken stock, and saffron liquid. Bring to boil. Return chicken to pan, skin side up. Reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer until chicken is cooked through (25 to 40 minutes). Remove chicken from pan and keep warm.
Increase heat to medium-high and cook, stirring frquently, until mixture is reduced by 1/3. Reduce heat to medium. Add honey and stir well. Add reserved prunes and cook until heated through. Return chicken to pan, cover, and heat through.
Plate and garnish with almonds if desired.