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Israeli Yellow Chicken and Potatoes

Yellow chicken and potatoes are extremely popular in Israel.  You can find them made in homes, sold hot in stores, and even in children’s hot lunches.  Just add green beans as a side and it is ready to serve.

Yellow chicken and potatoes in a ceramic baking dish

Israeli yellow chicken is one of my family’s favorites.  This is because it is not only tasty but also easy and relatively quick to make.  

I especially like that by making this one recipe, you have two thirds of your meal complete. Like with Israeli paprika chicken and potatoes, all you have to do is add a vegetable and you’re done.

At first, I thought this recipe may have a Yemenite origin because it calls for hawaij.  However, after asking my mother’s Yemenite friend, I discovered this wasn’t the case.

Apparently, Yemenite Jews in Israel use the spice so much that it spread into Israeli cuisine.  

Hawaij has a great flavor.  You can likely find this spice at your local Jewish supermarket or Israeli minimarket.  

Make sure to buy hawaij made for soups, not for coffee. If it doesn’t say which it is,  you can assume it’s the right one.  If you can’t find or don’t want to buy hawaij, you can replace it with more turmeric.

Cutting Potatoes

You can cut your potatoes to any shape.  However, what is most commonly seen in Israel is a steak fry cut.  

Keep in mind though, if the potatoes are too thin, they may start to disintegrate. and i f they are too thick, they will take longer to cook.

IS KOSHER CHICKEN BETTER?

Yes and no. 

It is not necessarily healthier as far as bacteria is concerned, since bacteria can only safely be killed with heat. 

What is better is the quality of the chicken.

The salting process used to remove blood, as part of the koshering process, is believed to provide better quality meat.  

It creates a sort of quick dry brine.

Also, kosher animals are kept in better conditions than nonkosher animals, due to strict kosher health requirements of the animals.  They are also killed in arguably more humane conditions.

While I’ve only eaten kosher meat (so I cannot compare), I’ve been told by non-Jews who do not keep kosher that they’ve noticed that kosher chicken is of superior quality to cook with.

SHOULD YOU WASH CHICKEN?

According to the USDA, you should not wash chicken or meat because washing it spreads bacteria throughout the kitchen.

Water can splash bacteria up to 3 feet surrounding your sink, including onto counter tops, other food, towels and you (i.e. cross contamination).

A study done by Drexel University shows that it is best to move meat and poultry directly from package to pan.  The heat from cooking will kill any bacteria that may be present.

One exception would be if there are bone fragments or residue from giblets, as in a roasting chicken. In that case, feel free to rinse if you like.  However, make sure you wipe down your sink afterwards.

HOW CAN I CLEAN MY CHICKEN WITHOUT WASHING IT?

If you want to clean your chicken without washing it, wipe it down with a wet paper towel. This will remove anything other than bacteria.

Just make sure the paper towel doesn’t touch anything else and to toss the paper towel right away.

HOW TO DEFROST CHICKEN

IN THE FRIDGE

This method is the most highly recommended. Chicken typically takes a full day to thaw. Once thawed, the poultry can remain in the refrigerator for a day or two before cooking.

IN COLD WATER

This should take two to three hours.  Submerge your sealed chicken in a pot or bowl full of cold water.  Change out the water every 30 minutes or so. 

Do not use warm or hot water.  It is unhealthy to do so, can start cooking your chicken, and doesn’t do so evenly.

COOK IT FROZEN

According to the USDA, you can cook frozen chicken.  It will take 50% longer to cook, but it’s an option.  You should also cook it on a roasting rack or over vegetables, so the heat can circulate around the chicken.

IS IT SAFE TO REFREEZE RAW CHICKEN

If you have extra raw chicken that you didn’t use but want to refreeze, you can, as long as it was thawed in the fridge.

According to the USDA,“food thawed in the refrigerator is safe to refreeze without cooking.”  However, you do lose quality when refreezing previously defrosted meat. 

Every time you defrost meat, it loses moisture through thawing, which also leads to a loss in flavor.  To compensate for this, marinate the meat to add more flavor and juice.”

The USDA also says not to “refreeze any foods left outside the refrigerator longer than 2 hours; 1 hour in temperatures above 90 °F.”

SHOULD YOU BRINE?

No.  Brining actually doesn’t do anything to help poultry.  In fact, it makes it soggy rather than juicy, with watered down flavor. 

Aromatic brines and stock don’t help with flavor either.  This is because the salt pulls water molecules in, leaving most of the flavor behind.

DRY BRINING

A dry brine loosens up muscle fibers, allowing them to retain more moisture as without adding any excess liquid. 

Initially, the salt draws moisture out, then it dissolves in this liquid, creating a concentrated brine, which eventually gets reabsorbed.  This leads to more intensely flavored results.

An added benefit is that it also requires less space and mess than a water brine.  Not to mention the fact that it allows for crispier skin. 

CAN YOU DRY BRINE KOSHER POULTRY AND MEAT?

Yes.  Food experts are often under the impression that kosher meat and poultry cannot be brined and dry brined. 

This is because of the koshering process which involves salting the meat to remove the blood.  However, the process is not nearly as long as the dry brining process, and unlike a dry brine, the poultry is soaked to remove the salt.

So, since the process is quite different than a dry brine, it is fine and even recommended to dry brine kosher poultry and meat.

HOW TO STORE CHICKEN

Place cooled chicken in an airtight container or wrap in heavy-duty aluminum foil or plastic wrap.  Store in the fridge for up to 4 days.

HOW TO FREEZE CHICKEN

Freeze leftovers within 3-4 days.  Place cooled chicken in an airtight container or resealable freezer bag. 

Freeze for up to 4 months.  After that, it is safe to eat. However, the quality begins to degrade.

Yield: 8 servings

Israeli Yellow Chicken and Potatoes

Yellow chicken and potatoes in a ceramic baking dish

This Israeli chicken brings both flavor and color to any table

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 1 hour

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 4 leg quarters, cut
  • 1 large onion, cut
  • 2 pounds potatoes, cut long (1 kilogram)
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 2 teaspoon hawaij, or more turmeric
  • 2 teaspoons chicken bullion powder
  • 1 cup water (235 milliliters)
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Instructions

  1. Pat the chicken dry. Coat the pan with oil. When hot, fry the chicken skin side down until golden brown.
  2. Remove the chicken and set aside. Add onions and mix, scraping up the brown bits from the chicken. Saute until they begin to brown.
  3. Add potatoes. Fry on both sides until lightly browned.
  4. Sprinkle turmeric, hawaij (or more turmeric if you don’t have hawaij), chicken bullion powder. Mix.
  5. Add the chicken face up. Cook for about a minute.
  6. Pour water until the chicken is half covered. Add more as needed. 
  7. Bring to a boil. Lower to a simmer. Cook on a low heat for half an hour or until chicken is cooked through and potatoes are soft.
  8. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

8

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 261Total Fat: 15gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 10gCholesterol: 164mgSodium: 213mgCarbohydrates: 26gFiber: 3gSugar: 2gProtein: 34g

Did you make this recipe?

Please leave a comment on the blog or share a photo on Instagram

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Eilidh

Sunday 29th of March 2020

Hey, thanks for sharing your recipes. Hoping to make some this week and reminisce of some holidays in Israel ❤️. Can you do this in the slow cooker? If so how long would you cook it for?

Thanks, Eilidh

ElissaBeth

Sunday 29th of March 2020

Hi :) Honestly the only thing my family ever made in a slow cooker was chollent and even that we haven't done for years... I haven't the foggiest of how to make slow cooker recipes. However, if you figure out how long to cook it for, it would be great for you to post it for other :)

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