A Cozy One-Pot Chicken Recipe for the Holidays

November 30, 2023
Dining & Wine
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The Yiddish word tsimmes, or tzimmes, means to make a big fuss over something. It’s also the name of an Ashkenazi dish of sweet potatoes, carrots, dried fruit and sometimes flanken or brisket, traditionally served at Jewish holidays.

You’d think, with a name like tsimmes, it must be a fussy dish, needing chopping, peeling and praying over to get right.

But the tsimmes I grew up with were simple vegetable side dishes, a pretty mix of orange-hued roots dotted with dark prunes and glistening with honey, baked until plush and velvety. Sure, there was some peeling and chopping, but next to frying latkes, pinching kreplach and rolling matzo balls, a pan of tsimmes was the one fuss-free part of the holiday preparation.

With that ease in mind, I created this tsimmes as a convenient holiday showpiece. Since Hanukkah is approaching, I wanted a one-pot dish that was festive enough for a holiday meal, yet easy enough to leave time to make latkes.

Tsimmes recipes vary greatly, but the version I grew up with included honey and orange juice to nudge the natural sweetness of the root vegetables and dried fruit. For this main-course version, I decided to nix the honey and use only orange juice, which reduces during simmering to a vibrant, tangy glaze.

I also substituted dates for the usual prunes, though almost any dried fruit will do. Dried cherries and cranberries add pops of color, while dried apricots blend in with the roots for a chewy-sweet surprise in every bite.

Tsimmes can veer into sweet-enough-for-dessert territory, which would cloy as a main. So another tweak was to add cumin and coriander to the cinnamon and ginger that typically spice the dish, because I wanted those earthy, musky flavors to ground it to the savory side.

Lastly, I added chicken to make the dish substantial enough to anchor the meal. Because root vegetables need to simmer for 45 minutes or longer to turn silky and plush, dark meat chicken is a better partner than breasts. Bone-in thighs will work, though the skin becomes limp after all that simmering. I call for boneless thighs because they get wonderfully soft and tender as they bubble away beneath the roots.

This tsimmes is such a simple, cozy main dish that the only fuss will be made over, not by, the cook who serves it.

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