Braised Chicken with Dates

When I think about comfort foods I’m no different than most people. I’ll go for Macaroni and Cheese, Mashed Potatoes and Chocolate Pudding just like the next guy.

But my list also includes Chicken Fricassee. My mother made Chicken Fricassee with chicken wings, gizzards and necks. She included potatoes and little meatballs, lots of onions and sometimes mushrooms. She loaded it up with paprika, covered it and cooked it slowly for hours until there was a rich, russet gravy and chicken soft-as-you-know-what. 

That was good.

When my mother was much older and not well, I would make some for her and bring it to her house in a kind of comforting culinary role reversal. She loved Chicken Fricassee too.

This dish was such a regular when I was a child that when I became a Mom and my kids were young, I made it too. 

They hated it. Made fun of it. Wouldn’t eat it.

I still don’t get it.

But, it wasn’t something I made because what’s the point? If your family doesn’t like something you don’t cook it for dinner.

I did however, continue to make braised chicken. Which is actually, for most purposes except the strictest definition, the same as fricassee. My daughters did eat many of the newer versions. And one day Gillian actually called me out on it and said she knew it was fricassee only with different spices and no meatballs.

This is one of the recipes that proved to be a big winner. Call it Braised Chicken with Dates if the word fricassee is not a word you want to use in your house.

Braised Chicken with Dates

1 cut up broiler-fryer chicken

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 large onion, sliced

1 large clove garlic, chopped

2 teaspoons chopped fresh ginger

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

1 cup chicken broth

12 whole dates, preferably medjool

Rinse and dry the chicken and set aside. Heat the olive oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Cook the chicken a few pieces at a time until they are lightly browned, about 8 minutes. Remove the chicken to a dish and set aside. Add the onion to the pan and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add the garlic and ginger an cook briefly. Return the chicken to the pan and spoon the onions on top. Sprinkle with the cumin, cayenne and nutmeg. Pour in the chicken broth. Stir the liquid, cover the pan and turn the heat to low-medium. Cook for 15 minutes. Add the dates and cook for another 10-15 minutes or until chicken is cooked through. Makes 4 servings