At his Miami restaurant, Michael's Genuine Food & Drink, chef Michael Schwartz eschews the region's "Floribbean" cuisine for a style of from-scratch cooking all his own. Now in his first cookbook, he's offering his sought-after recipes to fans everywhere. Schwartz treats ingredients simply to create flavorful, unpretentious dishes like these Middle Eastern-inspired braised chicken thighs. The chef embellishes the tender poultry with sweet apricots, briny olives and a cilantro-laced couscous to capture the genuine flavors of his restaurant at home.
Braised Chicken with Apricots, Green Olives and Herbed Couscous
Recipe adapted from Michael's Genuine Food: Down-to-Earth Cooking for People Who Love to Eat (Clarkson Potter)
Yield: 6 servings
¼ cup canola oil
½ cup all-purpose flour
4 pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs (about 12)
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
2 carrots, peeled and cut into ½-inch pieces
1 medium white onion, roughly chopped
3 celery stalks, roughly chopped
1½ cups pitted green olives
1 cup dried apricots
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
1 cup fresh orange juice
1 cup couscous
6 scallions, white and light-green parts only, thinly sliced
1 cup fresh cilantro leaves, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped mint leaves
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1. Preheat the oven to 375° and arrange a rack in the center.
2. In a Dutch oven or large ovenproof pot, warm the oil over high heat. Spread the flour on a large, shallow plate. Season the chicken liberally with salt and pepper. Dredge the chicken lightly in the flour, tapping off the excess. Working in batches, sear the chicken until browned all over, about 4 minutes per side. Transfer to a platter and repeat with the remaining chicken.
3. Add the carrots, onion and celery to the drippings in the pot. Cook, stirring frequently, until the vegetables are softened and slightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add 2 teaspoons of salt, 1 of teaspoon pepper and the olives, apricots, cinnamon and stock. Add the chicken and arrange so the thighs are covered with liquid. Pour any drippings on the platter into the pot. Bring to a boil, then cover and bake for 1 hour or until the chicken is fork tender.
4. In a small saucepan, bring the orange juice, ½ cup of water and 1 tablespoon of salt to a boil. Remove from the heat, stir in the couscous and cover. Let stand until the couscous is soft, about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, in a bowl, combine the scallions with the cilantro and mint.
5. Remove the chicken from the oven and stir in the butter until melted. Transfer the couscous to a serving bowl and fluff with a fork. Fold in half the scallion mixture. Sprinkle the remaining scallion mixture over the braised chicken and serve immediately.