Chicken Yassa is scrumptious West African comfort food that the whole world needs to know about. Delicious tender chicken and lots of caramelized onions in a sweet, spicy, lemony sauce.
Senegalese Chicken Yassa is a famously popular recipe throughout west Africa. It’s one of those simply delicious dishes: just a few ingredients that are transformed, by the magic of cooking, into an exciting and comforting meal.
Chicken, lots of onions, lemon juice, garlic, dijon mustard and one hot pepper to infuse a perfect amount of kick. After marinating, browning and a slow braise, you get fall-off-the-bone tender chicken and sweet caramelized onions in a captivating sweet-tangy-spicy sauce.
HOW TO MAKE CHICKEN YASSA
There are several stages to this recipe, each one contributing a delicious layer of flavor to the dish.
- The first step is to marinate the chicken and onions with a mixture of oil, lemon juice, garlic and dijon mustard. Let the chicken marinate for a good three hours for maximum flavor. If you can leave it overnight, even better.
- Next, brown the chicken. This can be done on a grill (the most authentic method) or in a skillet. I prefer the skillet to the oven for browning. Just a personal preference. I might have considered grilling it but there’s still a mountain of snow between my back door and my grill!
- Remove the browned chicken pieces from the skillet and add the onions with their lemony, garlicky marinade. Sauté them until they are golden and caramelized. Remove them from the pot.
- Add the chicken back to the pot. Mound the caramelized onions on top. Set the hot pepper in the middle. Turn on the heat and get everything simmering.
- Cover the pot and set it in a preheated 350ºs oven and cook for an hour and 20 minutes.
Serve Chicken Yassa hot, with plain white rice to soak up all the delicious sauce.
Be careful when you transfer the chicken to a plate or platter because it might fall apart – it’s that tender!
This comforting dish with bright flavors feels just right as the snow here in Boston is starting to melt and the birds are starting to chirp.
I hope you enjoy!
And if you like this kind of comforting flavorful chicken dish, don’t miss these other delicious Panning The Globe chicken recipes:
- Filipino Chicken Adobo
- Jollof Rice with Chicken
- Slow Cooker Chicken Tagine
- Ottolenghi’s Roast Chicken with Za’atar and Sumac
- Arroz Con Pollo: Spanish Chicken and Rice Casserole
Here’s the recipe for Senegalese Chicken Yassa. If you try this recipe, please come back to leave a star rating and a comment. I’d love to know what you think.
Senegalese Chicken Yassa
Tender chicken braised with lemon and caramelized onions. Serve with fluffy rice and Moroccan Carrot Salad.
- Prep Time: 30 min
- Cook Time: 1 hour 30 mins
- Total Time: 2 hours
- Yield: 6 1x
- Category: Main Course
- Method: Oven
- Cuisine: African
- 3 chicken leg quarters (leg and thigh)
- 3 chicken breast halves (bone-in)
- 5 onions (about 2 pounds) peeled, halved, and thinly sliced
- 1 habanero or scotch bonnet pepper
- 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
- 1/4 cup canola oil or olive oil
- 2 tablespoons dijon mustard
- 4 medium garlic cloves, crushed
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- For Browning and Braising the Chicken
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon cooking oil (olive, canola, or grape seed)
- 1 1/2 cups low-salt chicken broth (I recommend Swanson’s)
- Garnish 1 cup pitted green olives, sliced
- Marinate the Chicken: Put the chicken and onions into a large glass bowl. Cut a few slits in the habanero pepper and add it to the bowl. Whisk marinade ingredients in a small bowl and pour on top. Toss to coat. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and marinate in the fridge for at least 3 hours or, preferably, overnight.
- Brown the Chicken and Caramelize the Onions: Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium-high heat in a large heavy pot or Dutch oven. Remove the chicken from the marinade and sprinkle pieces with a few pinches of salt and a few grinds of pepper, to taste. Brown chicken on both sides in batches, three pieces at a time, about 5 minutes per batch. Transfer to a plate and set aside. Spoon out some of the chicken fat from the pot, leaving about one tablespoon.
- Caramelize the Onions Set the hot pepper aside and scrape the onions and all the marinade into the pot over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring, for about 5 minutes to get the onions hot and cooking. Cover the pot and turn the heat to medium-low. Let the onions cook, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes more, until they are soft and starting to caramelize. Regulate the heat so they don’t burn.
- Use a spatula or wooden spoon to move onions aside, as you lay chicken pieces into the bottom of the pot, and then mound the onions on top of the chicken pieces. Place the hot pepper in the middle of the pot. Pour in chicken broth. Turn the heat to medium high and bring the broth to a simmer. Cover the pot and put it in the oven and cook for 1 hour and 20 minutes.
- Serve with fluffy white rice and sliced green olives.
Keywords: African lemon chicken stew, lemon chicken stew, lemony braised chicken with caramelized onions