Chicken, Lemon & Olive Stew

Warm, earthy spices infuse this savory stew, and olives and lemon add brightness. It's perfect for casual entertaining because it tastes even better a day or two after it's made.

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  • 6 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs (about 25 thighs), trimmed of excess fat
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 large yellow onions, thinly sliced
  • 8 cloves garlic, crushed and peeled
  • 1 tablespoon ground turmeric
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 3 small dried red chiles, preferably chile de Arbol, stemmed and crumbled
  • 2 3 inches cinnamon sticks
  • 2 fresh bay leaves or 1 dried
  • 1 quart lower-salt chicken broth
  • Finely grated zest and juice of 4 lemons
  • 2 cups canned chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 2 cups small pitted green olives, such as picholine or manzanilla
  • Saffron Couscous
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro or mint
Saffron Couscous
  • 3 cups (1-1/2 lb.) couscous
  • 3 cups lower-salt chicken broth
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon saffron threads, crumbled
  • Kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Season the chicken all over with 2 teaspoons salt and 2 teaspoons pepper. Heat the oil in an 8-quart Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Working in batches so as not to crowd the pan, brown the chicken well all over, about 3 minutes per side, transferring each batch to a plate or bowl-it'll take about 4 batches and 24 minutes total to brown all the chicken. The bottom of the pan will be brown, but that's OK.
Reduce the heat to medium, add the onions and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally until the onions are softened and golden brown, 5 to 6 minutes. Add the turmeric, cumin, coriander, chiles, cinnamon sticks, and bay leaves and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 1 minute more. Add the chicken broth, lemon zest, and 1/2 cup of the lemon juice. Cover and simmer over medium-low heat for 30 minutes.
Return the chicken and any accumulated juices to the pot. Carefully stir in the chickpeas and olives. Increase the heat to medium high and simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the sauce has thickened somewhat and the chicken is cooked through, 6 to 8 minutes more. Stir in 1 tablespoon of the remaining lemon juice and season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve over the Saffron Couscous, sprinkled with the cilantro or mint.
Make Ahead Tip: This stew can be prepared and refrigerated up to 3 days ahead or frozen up to 1 month in advance. Reheat gently over medium-low heat, adding 1/2 cup water if the stew seems too thick.
Saffron Couscous
Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Put the couscous in a 9x13-inch baking dish; set aside.
In a small saucepan, heat the chicken broth, butter, saffron, and 1 tsp. salt over medium-high heat until the butter is melted and the broth is hot. Pour the mixture over the couscous and mix well.
Cover the baking dish with foil and bake until the liquid has been absorbed by the couscous, 10 to 12 minutes. Let sit at room temperature, covered, for 5 minutes. Drizzle the olive oil over the couscous. Using a fork or your fingers, gently mix to coat the couscous in oil and break apart any clumps. Transfer to a serving dish. If not serving immediately, loosely cover the dish and keep warm for up to 30 minutes.
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