Braised Chicken with Dates

In a difficult time, welcome the new year with this easy recipe

By Ronnie Fein, JTA

Rosh Hashanah won’t be usual this year. Like many of you, my family won’t be getting together, so we’ll be setting the table for two, not 11. It’s disappointing because although we managed on Passover with a Zoom Seder, we figured all would be well by the High Holy Days.

But all isn’t well. It’s been difficult to shop, what with waiting in line to get in and having to wear a mask and push a shopping cart that stinks of Lysol. Or text with my Instacart shopper to pick out the right bananas.

I know I’m not the only person who can’t find all the grocery items I want (there isn’t a whole brisket to be had). And the expense! Oy!

But then I think about what makes Rosh Hashanah so extraordinary. About hearing the shofar blast (virtually from our synagogue), how it thrills us and calls us to think about the past year and consider our future. I’m grateful the holiday has come. I look forward to another year ahead.

On Rosh Hashanah we celebrate new beginnings, we pray for good health, joy, and prosperity.

We eat as best we can. For us this year, eating best means chicken.

Chicken is celebratory. It is also available, relatively inexpensive, easy to cook, and doesn’t take hours.

Best of all, chicken is mild, so it takes on all sorts of flavors from what you cook it with and how you season it. Is it any wonder that this lovable bird has been an enduring classic for Shabbat?

This chicken recipe includes leeks and dates, two of the symbolic ingredients for Rosh Hashanah. I’ll serve it with its savory pan juices over egg noodles and a green vegetable on the side.

Shanah tovah. Be well and stay safe.

Braised Chicken With Dates
1 cut up broiler-fryer chicken
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 leek, chopped (1/2 to 3/4 cup chopped, or use one medium onion)
1 large clove garlic, chopped
2 tsp. tightly packed chopped fresh ginger
2 tsp. tightly packed grated fresh orange peel
1/4 tsp. Aleppo pepper (or use 2 pinches cayenne pepper)
1/8 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
Salt to taste
1/2 cup chicken stock
1/2 cup orange juice
6-8 whole pitted dates, preferably Medjool, cut in half
Chopped chives or parsley for garnish

1. Rinse and dry the chicken and set aside. Heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat.
Cook the chicken a few pieces at a time until they are lightly browned, about eight minutes.

2. Remove the chicken to a dish and set aside. Add the leek, garlic, ginger, and orange peel to the pan and cook, stirring constantly, for about one minute. Return the chicken to the pan and spoon the leek mixture on top. Sprinkle with the cayenne and nutmeg. Sprinkle with salt if desired.

3. Pour in the chicken stock and orange juice. 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 to 15 minutes or until chicken is cooked through.

4. Place the chicken and dates in a serving dish. Boil the pan fluids over high heat for a minute or two to thicken the sauce slightly. Pour the sauce over the chicken and dates. Sprinkle with chopped chives or parsley. Makes four servings.

Ronnie Fein is author of The Modern Kosher Kitchen and Hip Kosher.

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