Chicken Yassa, also known as Poulet Yassa is a lemony, savory, slightly spicy West African dish commonly eaten in Senegal and The Gambia. it has become one of my favorite go-to dishes because of how easy it is to prepare. It's so flavorful and healthy because of the abundance of vegetables and lean protein, its also budget friendly and one of my go-to meal prep meals! This has become a staple for me when I want something warm and comforting but easy to cook!
A lot of African foods use skinless chicken and this removes a lot of fat from the dish without compromising the flavor! I do wonder where did the concept of removing the skin of chicken originate? 🤔
This is all of the skin and fat removed, about over a cup!
This dish uses A LOT of onions and garlic and is the foundational flavor of this dish. A lot of onions means a lot of tears. I need to find a remedy for that. You can use red or yellow onions. Although onions aren't consumed in the same volume as other vegetables and used more as a flavoring base, it has a lot of health benefits such as antioxidants, great for digestive health, and excellent for regulating blood sugar! All of the onion flavor mellows out and becomes cohesive once cooked!
This recipe also uses lots of lemons! The more the merrier! Lemons grow in abundance in The Gambia and Senegal, the origins of this dish.
The chicken once it's browned. Browning food is called the Maillard Reaction, a cool food chemistry term I learned during my time at CBU. Browning food from chicken to butter gives it a distinct flavor and added depth to dishes. The browning in this recipe not only effects the chicken, but the onions added later into the same pot will get some of that added flavor.
The final touch is dijon mustard. Yellow mustard can also be used but I like Dijon cause it has a little sweetness to it.
The spice and another flavor profile is added with the peppers! Peppers are a big part of African cuisine. You can add Scotch Bonnet or Habanero pepper. A good alternative if this isn't available would be a few fresh Cayenne peppers.
3-4lbs chicken quarters, skin removed
4-5 red or yellow onions, sliced into rings
1 bulb garlic, peeled and minced
4 lemons, juiced
salt and pepper to taste
1/4th cup dijon mustard or more to taste
2 habanero or scotch bonnet peppers
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 cups rice, cooked
Clean chicken quarters and remove skin and any other desired fat. Place to the side.
Add sliced onions and minced garlic into a large bowl with chicken quarters. Pour lemon juice over the chicken, onions, and garlic.
Add salt and pepper. Additional salt can be added during cooking if needed. Mix
In a large dutch oven or pot, add cooking oil over medium-high heat. When oil is hot add chicken quarters and fry until browned. Chicken doesn't have to be fully cooked. Remove chicken from oil and set aside.
In the same pot, add onions and garlic with a slotted spoon in order to keep the lemon juice inside of bowl. This will be added later.
Sauté onions and garlic and stir to mix in the brown bits from the chicken at the bottom of the pot or dutch oven. Cook until caramelized.
Add chicken on top of onions. Add in leftover lemon juice and dijon mustard. Mix together. Place peppers on top of mixture.
Cover pot and reduce heat to low. Cook the stew for 40 minutes, stirring occasionally. If mixture becomes too dry, add a few tablespoons of chicken stock.
Serve by placing an equal amount of onions and chicken on top of rice. Traditionally this dish is eaten by hand but utensils can be used.
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