yassa poulet

after a great weekend reconnecting with my roots people- aka a bunch of west africans, and in particular a handful of old friends from dakar, i tried my hand at this (DELICIOUS) dish for my little brothers tonight.

poulet yassa is a senegalese/gambian staple dish, that is popular all over west africa, and is so simple it’s a joke.

essentially, the chicken marinates in lemon juice for as long as you can let it- a few hours before you start cooking- and the lemon in the dish acts to partly cook, marinate, and caramelize the onions. my version is a pretty fast-forwarded version- i have memories of watching this be prepared in the traditional senegalese outdoor kitchens, where the onions slowly caramelize for hours.

yassa poulet a la dc student budget

1 whole chicken, cut in pieces

1/4-1/3 cup dijon mustard

8 onions (i know this sounds crazy, but they cook down a lot, and the lemon neutralizes their flavor)

1/3 cup lemon juice– or one of those plastic lemons full of juice, which will give you a bit extra, since you need lots.

1/2 cup green olives (optional)

3 carrots, sliced diagonally

black pepper

1 habanero pepper

maggi sauce *if you have it, of course*

about 30 minutes before you begin to cook, rinse the chicken parts and coat them in lemon juice, turning with your hands or spoon in a bowl. set aside.

thinly slice onions. place them in a metal bowl and toss these with lemon juice so that they’re well coated. slice the carrots, too.

lightly brown the chicken parts in a pan with oil (3 TBS), salt (2 tsp), the habanero (prick with fork) and maggi if you have maggi. (maggi is a staple ingredient to west african cuisine and LIFE. it’s essentially liquid bouillon). brown on medium heat for 20-30 minutes uncovered. (to check if the chicken is cooked through, cut a piece to the bone or midway through with a knife- if the meat is still pink, it should cook a bit longer.)

while the chicken browns, sautee the onions in a separate pot with about 3 TBS of oil. add black pepper- lots! 1-2 TBS. let these cook down on medium heat- they will quickly start to caramelize.

add lemon juice generously, or about 1/4 cup to the onions, and let them simmer for about 20 minutes. when browned and well cooked down, add 1/4 c. dijon mustard, carrots, and 1 tsp salt. lower heat and stir well. the mixture should be evenly simmering.

by now, your chicken should be cooked through. if it’s not, that’s ok! combine the two pans into whichever is larger. add olives, and more dijon or lemon based on your taste. i like mine dijon-heavy, my brother likes his lemon-heavy.

stir the entire mixture on medium heat for 5 minutes, and cover, let simmer on low for 10 minutes if chicken is well cooked through, 20 if not. *note that if you like your chicken well-cooked/falling off the bone, you can let this simmer on low for as long as you like. it will absorb the flavor of the onions and sauce and taste just as decadent. if you do this just be sure to add water sparingly so it doesn’t thicken too much.

fini! serve on white rice. bon apetit.


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