Chicken with Caramelized Sumac Onions, Preserved Lemon and Israeli Couscous

SummaryWhile flipping through an Ottolenghi cookbook for a hearty chicken dish, I became inspired. Though none of Yotam's recipes sounded perfect, his roast chicken with za'atar served as a marvelous foundation for this one-pot stew. It's really wonderful, fairly quick, can be made ahead, makes great leftovers and just bursts with flavor!
*This recipe was chosen as a Community Pick on Food52.

Yield: serves 4


  • 2 teaspoons grapeseed oil (or another high heat oil)
  • 2½ - 3 pounds chicken (I like a combo of skin-on/bone-in breasts and boneless/skinless thighs)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 med-large yellow onions, thinly sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and mashed or pressed
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
  • 1¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1¼ teaspoon ground allspice
  • 3 teaspoons sumac
  • 2 tablespoons chopped preserved lemon
  • 1 cup pearled (Israeli) couscous
  • 1½ cup chicken broth


Sprinkle the chicken with the 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Set a Dutch over or brasier over medium-high heat, pour in the grapeseed oil and when hot, brown the chicken pieces really well. Then, remove and set them aside but don’t rinse out the pan.

Reduce the burner to medium, and let the pot cool down for a couple minutes. Then add the olive oil to the pot and then the onions and garlic as well as a half-teaspoon of kosher salt. Caramelize the onions, stirring occasionally and adding some chicken stock if the pan gets dry. Preheat the oven to 400° F.

While the onions are cooking, mix together the sumac, a teaspoon of kosher salt, the cinnamon and the ground allspice. When onions are caramelized, sprinkle 75% of spice mixture over them and stir well to combine. Add the chopped preserved lemon and stir to combine. Sprinkle rest of spice mixture over reserved chicken and then nestle the pieces in the onions. Make a well in center of the chicken/onion pile and pour in the uncooked Israeli couscous. Add the chicken broth, cover the pot tightly and cook in oven 20 minutes. Uncover and cook an additional five minutes. Taste and season with more salt if need be. Serve warm, or cool and then chill until you want it.

photo by James Ransom of Food52

photo by James Ransom of Food52