| Prep Time: 10 mins
| Cook Time: 35 mins
| Total Time: 1 hour 15 mins
You may need: Dried Garlic Powder
Saffron, one of the world's most expensive spices, is hand-harvested from stigmas of the flowers of the crocus plant. Each flower only contains three saffron threads. So, the labor-intensive production process drives up the cost. Luckily, we can infuse saffron's intense and deep flavor profile to a dish with just a pinch, and further extend the flavor by first soaking it in hot water.
Chefs use saffron to imbue dishes with aroma, color, and flavor complexity. Some people think saffron tastes and smells like honey while others sense floral notes. The industry taste experts liken high-quality saffron to an "earthy-grassy almost bittersweet flavor" with "aroma like hay". Whatever we individually sense, the flavor is unmistakeable and quite lovely when used sparingly in a recipe. Saffron is grown in Iran and often used in special Persian dishes. Inspired by authentic recipes and flavors, our chefs have created a Lemon Saffron Chicken dish that is elegant enough for a special dinner party, yet easy enough to make for a weeknight meal. The marinade is key as yogurt is a natural meat tenderizer and allows flavors to deeply penetrate the chicken. Try our easy Persian Tomato Cucumber Salad recipe as a side!
1 lemon, juiced (extra lemons for serving wedges)
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup of plain Greek (or similar) yogurt
1 tsp ground Turmeric (optional)
1.5 lbs of boneless chicken breasts, sliced into quarters
1 onions, sliced into half moons (optional)
1/2 cup cherry tomatoes
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp Kosher salt & freshly-ground black pepper
Generous pinch of Piquant Post Saffron (~10-12 threads)
Combining the saffron with hot water will always extend the flavor of your saffron. You can extend the flavor even further by grinding the saffron in a mortar pestle prior to soaking.
Yogurt is a natural (and ancient!) meat tenderizer. Using it as the base of a marinade will help to keep the chicken breast extra moist and tender. For best results, let the chicken sit overnight in the yogurt marinade. But it can work in as little as 20-30 mins.
You can also use a grill to cook the chicken. Skewer chicken pieces and cherry tomatoes, and depending on the heat of your grill (and size of your chicken pieces), cook about 4-6 min per side.
Optional ingredients add a little character and flavor but don't sweat it if you don't have them.
Juice the lemon into a large bowl. Mince the garlic and add to the lemon juice. Add the turmeric and yogurt to lemon juice and stir to thoroughly mix. Slice each chicken breast into 4 pieces. Add the lemon yogurt marinade to a large non-reactive bowl or gallon size zipper bag. Toss to coat chicken and place in fridge for 30 mins to overnight.
Boil or microwave 1/2 cup of water. Place saffron in a small bowl and add 2 tbsp of hot water to saffron. Stir to mix. Let saffron soak for 10-15 mins to release the flavor.
Preheat oven to 350. Drizzle oil in an oven-safe baking dish. Add tomatoes and onions and toss in oil. Shake the excess marinade from chicken then nestle the chicken pieces in a single layer in the baking dish. Season with salt & pepper. Drizzle saffron water over the chicken. Place in top rack of oven, ~ 6 inches from top.
Cook chicken for 35 mins or until 165 deg. (optional step): when chicken hits 35 mins, turn on oven broiler to high. Broil chicken for 3-5 mins until edges just start to brown. This concentrates the flavors and adds a nice smoky note.
To make this a vegetarian dish, substitute extra firm tofu or tempeh for the chicken. You can reduce the marinade time to 20 mins.
You can also try making this Persian Saffron rice with a crusty layer called "Tahdig". This is a must have dish for any Persian holiday dinner table.
Be sure to leave comments and feedback on your meals and experiments in the comments for others to read.
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