Syrian Lemon Chicken Fricassee

Serves 6 to 8.

Note: This dish is known as hamut. From "The Seasonal Jewish Kitchen," by Amelia Saltsman.

• 6 whole chicken legs (thigh and drumstick), about 3 lb. total

• Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

• 2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

• 1 onion, chopped

• 2 c. sliced carrots

• 2 c. chopped celery ribs and leaves

• 3 garlic cloves, minced

• 4 tbsp. finely chopped fresh mint leaves, divided

• 3 to 4 lemons, divided

1 lb. tomatoes (meaty sauce ones), peeled and diced, or 1 (8-oz.) can tomato sauce

• 1 c. water or chicken broth, plus extra as needed

• 1 small potato, peeled and grated (if needed)

Directions

Pat the chicken dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper.

In a wide pot over medium-high heat, warm the olive oil. Working in batches if necessary to avoid crowding, add the chicken pieces and brown, turning as needed, until golden brown on all sides, 10 to 12 minutes. Transfer chicken to a plate.

Pour off all but 2 tablespoons of the fat from the pot, reduce the heat to medium, and add the onion, carrots, celery and about 1/2 teaspoon salt. Stir well, scraping the bottom of the pan to loosen the brown bits, and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is translucent and soft and carrots and celery are bright in color and beginning to get tender, 7 to 10 minutes. Add the garlic and 1 tablespoon of the chopped mint. Stir and cook 1 minute more, being careful not to let the garlic brown. Remove from heat.

Using a microplane grater, and working over the pot, grate the zest from 2 of the lemons, capturing both the zest and the spray of citrus oils in the pot. Juice lemons, enough to fill 3/4 cup. Add 1/2 cup of the lemon juice, with the tomatoes and 1 cup water (or chicken broth). Return pot to medium heat and cook until liquid is reduced by one-third, about 5 minutes. Return chicken to pot and spoon some of the liquid over it. Cover pot, reduce heat to low, and simmer, basting the chicken occasionally with the liquid (the chicken should always be half submerged in the sauce as it cooks), until chicken is very tender, about 45 minutes. Sauce develops as the dish cooks, so you may not need additional liquid, but add a little water or broth if needed.

Uncover the pot during the last 10 minutes of cooking to thicken the liquid. At this point, taste the sauce. It should be very lemony. Add more lemon juice as needed, along with the remaining 3 tablespoons mint. If the sauce seems too thin, add the potato and cook until the potato dissolves and the sauce is thick, about 10 minutes. Serve in shallow bowls with rice or another grain.

To make ahead: This dish can be prepared a day ahead, cooled, covered and refrigerated. Reheat on stovetop or in an uncovered pan in a 425-degree oven, adding the last 3 tablespoons of mint after reheating.

Nutrition information per each of 8 servings:

Calories 300 Fat 14 g Sodium 158 mg

Carbohydrates 13 g Saturated fat 4 g Calcium 59 mg

Protein 30 g Cholesterol 140 mg Dietary fiber 3 g

Diabetic exchanges per serving: 1 vegetable, ½ bread/starch, 4 lean meat, ½ fat.

ºCrispy smashed za'atar potatoes

Serves 6 to 8.

Note: Za'atar is a Middle Eastern spice blend of sumac, sesame and thyme, available at Middle Eastern food stores. From "The New Kosher" by Kim Kushner.

• 2 1/2 lb. small potatoes

• Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

• 1/4 c. extra-virgin olive oil

• 3 to 4 tbsp. za'atar (see Note)

Directions

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Place the potatoes in a large pot and add cold water to cover. Bring to a boil over high heat and stir in 1 tablespoon salt. Cover, reduce heat to medium and cook until fork-tender, about 10 minutes, depending on size.

Drain potatoes and spread in a single layer on a baking sheet. Use a large fork or a potato masher to smash them slightly. You just want to break them up a bit. Drizzle olive oil over potatoes and season generously with salt and pepper. Taste and adjust the seasoning.

Roast until the potatoes are golden and crisp, about 10 minutes. As soon as they come out of the oven, sprinkle generously with the za'atar to taste. Serve immediately.

Nutrition information per each of 8 servings:

Calories 176 Fat 8 g Sodium 510 mg

Carbohydrates 26 g Saturated fat 1 g Calcium 37 mg

Protein 3 g Cholesterol 0 mg Dietary fiber 4 g

Diabetic exchanges per serving: 1 ½ bread/starch, 1 ½ fat.