North African Chicken and Spinach Stew from The Family Table

Today’s recipe is from an upcoming cookbook we’re truly excited about – The Family Table by Jazz Smollett-WarwellJake SmollettJurnee Smollett-Bell, and Jussie Smollett, actors and Food Network stars. Their recipe for North African Chicken and Spinach Stew is warm and hearty – perfect for the cold season!

Before these siblings conquered Hollywood, they spent their childhood crisscrossing the United States. Moving coast to coast thirteen times, they car-tripped to small towns and big cities across America. But no matter where they lived, two things remained constant: their incredible family feasts and the long, wooden kitchen table where they shared food and lived their lives. Each time they arrived in a new home, their mother would transform planks of hard wood into a smooth, varnished butcher block table in a beloved ritual that took three days. That hand-crafted table would become the heart of the Smollett clan, where the most important and cherished events and accomplishments, no matter how large or small, were honored, and where holidays were celebrated. With a mother from New Orleans and a Jewish father from New York who met and married in California, the Smollett kids were exposed to diverse culinary heritages and grew up open to all the deliciousness the world had to offer.

In this warm and personal book, the Smolletts invite us all to take a seat at their table and enjoy the good times and good food that help families thrive. The Family Table includes more than 130 delicious, comforting recipes that pay tribute to their past and present.

Pre-order your copy of The Family Table from your favorite retailer before it goes on sale April 24.

North African Chicken and Spinach Stew 

Jazz: When I was seven years old, we lived in Elmhurst, Queens, surrounded by different cultures. We lived in what’s called a three-family house, which is simply a brownstone separated into three apartments, one per floor. The family upstairs was Indian and the family downstairs was Chinese. Our friends in the building to the left of us were from Afghanistan and told us stories of how they escaped their nation’s civil war. Our Italian friend across the street talked about his Sicilian grandmother and the desserts she made. The little Iranian girl who lived in the building to the right of us was Jussie’s first crush.

Of course we all played together; there were no boundaries. Our favorite game was stickball. We played in the middle of the street and looked out for each other by yelling “car!” as a signal to clear out of the street every time we’d see a car coming. As kids, we didn’t care about the differences between us; we cherished the stories we shared about our lives and the different foods we tried while at each other’s houses.

This particular dish came about from a meal we had at a friend’s birthday party down the street. We came home raving about it and had to try it! This is our mom’s version.

Makes 4 to 6 servings

  • 1 whole chicken (about 2 1/2 pounds)
  • 3 celery stalks, roughly chopped
  • 2 carrots, roughly chopped
  • 1 medium onion, roughly chopped
  • 3 bay leaves
  • Sea salt
  • 10 garlic cloves
  • 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) salted butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 10 ounces baby spinach, chopped (about 8 cups)
  • 1 tablespoon granulated onion
  • 1 tablespoon granulated garlic
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • Cooked basmati rice, for serving
  • Lemon wedges, for serving (optional)

PLACE the chicken in a large pot and cover it with water. Add the celery, carrot, onion, and bay leaves and season with 1 tablespoon salt. Cover and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 45 minutes.

REMOVE the chicken to a deep dish or bowl and let it drain. Strain the stock into a large bowl or pan and set aside. Transfer the vegetables from the strainer to a blender (remove the bay leaves), add the garlic, and puree until completely smooth. Set aside.

TO make the spinach stew, in a large saucepan over medium heat, melt 4 tablespoons of the butter. When it’s bubbling slightly, add the vegetable puree. Warm it through, about 2 minutes. Season with 1 teaspoon salt, the pepper, and the cinnamon stick, then add the spinach and cook until wilted, about 2 minutes. Add 11/2 cups of the reserved stock and bring to a simmer. Cook to let the flavors develop, about 15 minutes. Reduce the heat and keep warm (remove the cinnamon stick before serving).

MEANWHILE, when the chicken is cool enough to handle, pat it completely dry and break it down into 8 pieces: 2 thighs, 2 wings, and 2 breasts, then split the breasts in half. Place the chicken pieces in a large dish. Combine the granulated onion, granulated garlic, paprika, cayenne, oregano, and 1 teaspoon salt in a small bowl. Completely coat the chicken in this dry rub.

MELT the remaining 2 tablespoons butter in a large cast-iron skillet over high heat. Add the chicken pieces and sear until charred in spots, about 4 minutes. Flip and cook on the other side, 4 minutes. Remove from the heat.

SERVE the chicken with rice and a generous ladle of spinach stew. Squeeze lemon over the plate if desired.

One Response to “North African Chicken and Spinach Stew from The Family Table”
  1. Patsy says:

    I don’t understand 11/2 cups. Can you explain. Thanks!

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