Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Recipe for Saffron Chicken with Parsley and Lemon

If you like the distinctive flavor of saffron, this Saffron Chicken is a traditional way to use it.

(This recipe from November 2005 was revisited and updated April 2011.)   Have you ever cooked with saffron?  It's widely acknowledged to be the most expensive spice in the world, but you only need a tiny pinch to add delicious flavor to a dish like Paella, Saffron Rice, and this delicious Saffron Chicken which I first tasted when my Iranian friend Massoud made it for me.  When I made this recipe for the blog in 2005 I consulted Mark Bittman's The Best Recipes in the World and tried to remember how Massoud had done it.  For this updated version I did a little more online research and ended up revising my original instructions just a bit.  And if you'd like to see why the recipe needed updating, scroll down right before the recipe and you can see the one and only (lousy!) photo from the original post!

Massoud and Mark Bittman would both probably make this with chicken thighs, but I used boneless, skinless chicken breasts to keep it South Beach Diet friendly.  I cut the breasts on the diagonal to make small cutlets.

Heat 1 T olive oil and a tiny bit of butter in a heavy pan and brown the chicken pieces quickly using medium-high heat.

Remove the chicken to a plate, add the slivered onions and cook over low heat until the onions are nicely browned, about 12-15 minutes.  Remove the onions to a second plate.

Heat the chicken stock in the microwave until it's very warm, then stir in the saffron.

Put the chicken back into the pan, arrange the onions over the chicken, and pour the saffron-infused chicken stock over.  Cover the pan and cook over a very low simmer for about 30 minutes without turning the chicken.

After 30 minutes, add the lemon juice and parsley, and a bit of water if needed and simmer 10-15 minutes more.  Serve hot, over rice if desired.

And as promised, here is the one and only photo from my original Saffron Chicken post back in 2005!

Saffron Chicken with Parsley and Lemon
(Makes 2 servings, recipe from Massoud and The Best Recipes in the World.)

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 large or 2 small onions, cut in lengthwise slivers (this is a little more onions than original recipe)
1 T olive oil
1 tsp. butter (optional, but it adds a lot of flavor)
pinch saffron (about 1/4 tsp. or less)
3/4 cup chicken stock (this is a little more chicken stock than original recipe)
1 1/2 T fresh lemon juice (this is a little more lemon than original recipe)
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh parsley

Trim all visible fat and tendons from chicken breasts and cut in 1/2 strips on the diagonal to make small cutlets.  Peel the onions and cut into lengthwise slivers and chop parsley.

Use a heavy frying pan which is not too large and has a tight-fitting lid.  Heat the olive oil and butter, then brown the chicken quickly over medium-high heat.  (Don't let it cook long enough that the outside starts to get hard.  The chicken does not need to be cooked through.)

Remove chicken to a plate, add onion, and brown over very low heat until edges of onion pieces are turning golden, about 12-15 minutes.  Remove browned onions to another plate. Add chicken back to pan, and cover with onions.  Heat chicken stock, add saffron and stir to dissolve, then pour over chicken and onions. Simmer on very low heat with pan covered 30-45 minutes.

Add chopped parsley, lemon juice, and a tiny bit of additional water if needed, and simmer 15 minutes more. Serve hot, over rice if desired.


South Beach Suggestions:
This recipe made with boneless-skinless chicken breasts would be approved for any phase of the South Beach diet.  (I wouldn't worry about the small amount of butter in this recipe, which adds a lot of flavor but very little saturated fat, but you could leave it out if you wanted.)

More Tasty Ideas with Saffron:
(Recipes from other blogs are not always South Beach Diet friendly, check ingredients.)
Grilled Salmon Packets with Tomatoes, Olives, Garlic, Thyme, and Saffron from Kalyn's Kitchen
Risotto with Shrimp and Asparagus from The Perfect Pantry
Saffron Roasted Cauliflower from Chocolate and Zucchini
Pomegranate Saffron Rice from Dianasaur Dishes
Golden Saffron Spiced Tea from A Life (Time) of Cooking
Squash Soup with Saffron and Ginger from Andrea Meyers
Salmon with Coconut Saffron Sauce from My Colombian Recipes
Sweet Saffron Bread from Not Quite Nigella
Smoky Turkey and Saffron Red Rice from Picky Palate
Yellow Tomato Custard with Safffron and Myzythra Cheese from She Simmers
(Want even more recipes?  I find these recipes from other blogs from Food Blog Search.)
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30 comments:

LisaSD said...

You have an Iranian saffron source? Girl you are IN!!

Amy said...

Just about the only thing I cook with saffron is arroz con pollo--this looks really good, too.

Veron said...

Hi Kalyn,
I love saffron chicken. I cook it whole or in chunks. I have an Iranian source for saffron too :). I haven't tried it with parsely although the recipe is similar to how I do it when I do chunk chicken. I try adding a few carrots for flavor not really for eating (since it gets cooked till almost mush)... this adds a subtle sweet flavor to it. I usually make this with barberry rice (not your typical south beach diet though)
Barberry rice

Gabriella said...

Hi,
I have a question concerning your abbrevations: T means tablespoon and tsp means teaspoon?
Thank you for the recipe!

Kalyn said...

Gabriella, that's right
T is tablespoon
tsp. is teaspoon

Hope you like it.

Gabriella said...

Hi Kalyn,
Just wanted to let you know that I have made that dish several times, and it was always a big success! Thanks for posting it!

Kalyn said...

Gabriella, thanks for letting me know you enjoyed it. (Now I'm thinking this recipe really needs a new photo!)

Anonymous said...

Hi Kalyn thanks for the reecipe, just tried it today and it was lovely.
Silvie

Kalyn said...

Silvie, so glad you liked it (and oh my does this recipe ever need a new photo!)

Michelle said...

This has wonderful flavor!!! I love when I have saffron around the house too...not often, but sometimes! This was a great recipe and the parsley worked well with the saffron. Thanks again!

Kalyn said...

Michelle, glad you like it. And oh does this recipe need a new photo!

Chee Lee Leng said...

I never tried for Saffron foods before but it looks like yummy, delicious and easy to cooked. Thanks for sharing the recipe.

kellypea said...

Yet another recipe we'd love. Seems saffron has been finding it's way into a few dishes with me lately. I like how you revised this. I lost quite a few old images when I deleted my old blog and have been trying to restore them. I swear it would take less time to just cook the recipes again. Thanks for the idea and the great recipe.

Kalyn said...

Chee Lee, this is great if you like saffron.

Kelly how frustrating to lose photos. I'm slowly re-cooking my best old recipes that have ghastly photos, but it will take me years and years to replace all them!

Noriko said...

Kalyn, I was thinking of doing Chicken tomorrow night and this looks easy and delicious. Thank you for posting....

Big Dude said...

This dish looks and sounds outstanding. We bought our first ever saffron threads a few months ago and will have to try them in this dish.

Maris (In Good Taste) said...

Your recipes are graet no matter how many times!

Kalyn said...

Noriiko, you're welcome.

Big Dude, hope you are having fun experimenting with saffron. I think it's a flavor that you need to get used to a little, but I really like it.

Maris, thank you!

Jeanette said...

Kalyn, this looks absolutely delicious! I haven't cooked much with saffron (just in paella). Love one pot cooking!

CJ said...

I love saffron. What a fabulous recipe. Fantastic photo update too! Look how far your photo skills have come! Congratulations.

Kalyn said...

Jeanette, I've never made paella, but I sure do like it!

Thanks CJ! It's fun to see the improvement in my photos, but I still have a lot to learn!

Anonymous said...

Hi! I've just started back on low carb and this recipe looks delish :) I was just wondering, did I miss where the nutrition info was listed? I plan our meals by week and like to match up carb counts for the day. Thanks!

Kalyn said...

I chose South Beach to manage my weight because I didn't want to have to count carbs, calories, or points, so if you need the nutritional information you will have to calculate it yourself.

Lauren Becker said...

I'm a huge fan of saffron and cook with it all the time. Loved this dish, it was really really flavorful and simple. Thanks for posting!

Kalyn said...

Lauren, so glad you enjoyed it!

Atria C. said...

Kalyn, thank you for your recipie, I have made my own version on my blog (its in Polish but you can use google translator:)

http://ziolowyzakatek.blogspot.com/2011/04/kurczak-szafranowy-z-estragonem-cytryna.html

I decide to spice it up a little so I added a pink peper, cardamon,chilli flakes and bunch of estragon. Thanks for inspiration!

Atria C.

Kalyn said...

Atria, very fun seeing your version and your lovely photos!

Muffin said...

Love your blog, one of my favourites!
I have a question, more or less how many grams of chicken would you say is required as the size of chicken breasts vary a lot where I live (in the Middle East)...
Thanks!

Kalyn said...

Muffin, thanks and fun hearing from someone from the middle east. I love all the food from ther! I'd say in the U.S. chicken breasts weigh about 4-5 oz. (There's a converter in the left sidebar if you need to convert that to grams.)

Rachel O'Kane said...

This was amazing. I left out the butter and also the lemon (can't have fruit on this diet- not even lemon juice).

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