Senegal

My sister’s good friend from high school lived in Africa for a number of years. She and I have reconnected a bit since this blog started and she went out of her way to bring us a fabulous recipe for this week. She gave us resources on how meals are shared in Senegal. One article from Food52 had a line that has stuck with me. “Here, wealth is measured not by how much you have but by how much you give.” 

This. 

Everything about this is how I think we should all strive to live our lives. It can be so challenging to live into this mentality in a world so consumed by money and material things. It’s a continual quest, but each time we pause to reflect on this, hopefully it draws us back into a mindset that will move the world in a better direction.  

Chicken Yassa set against a brick wall

We had some of our favorite foodie friends set to come over to cook with us and to eat around the bowl together. I was getting ready to make and chill thiakry for dessert when some waves of nausea hit. I decided to hold off on cooking until I felt a bit better. Much to my dismay, I did not start to feel better, instead I felt much much worse. I was watching three children under three and trying to prepare for a dinner party and pretty much all I could do was lay in the fetal position and make sure the children were alive. Needless to say I had to cancel dinner. I had the chicken marinating and I was seriously bummed. I was weak and shaky and I’ll spare you the gory details of how my night played out. But I can assure you the dinner party would have been a lot more fun.

Two days later I was feeling more like myself and we didn’t want the chicken to go to waste.  After a solid 3 days of marinating we set out to make yassa poulet. We sadly didn’t get to commune with friends as we ate. We didn’t get to practice eating together in the beautiful way that Senegalese culture promotes. In Senegal eating together sounds like the best part of everyone’s day. The same Food52 article shared, “In Senegal, come lunchtime, everyone rushes home. It’s a moment we cherish and spend with friends and family. If you arrive at a Senegalese home at mealtime, whether you are expected or not, you will be invited to come share the meal. We believe that when food is shared, our bowl will remain plentiful.”

Chicken Yassa with Olives and Lemons

While we did miss out on some of our plans for gathering to eat ‘around the bowl’ we did get to taste the flavors and try to commit, as a family, to the hospitality that Senegalese homes extend.  We want to be people who offer an open table to our friends and family. [Leave us a comment if you want to come over for one of these meal nights. We are doing our best to make more and more of these meals in good company and gather friends and family around our table!]

While the recipe only called for marinating the chicken overnight, I can attest to the fact that 70hrs of marinating will produce incredibly tender and flavorful chicken. The dish was tangy from olives, rich with a mustardy sauce, and wholly delicious. After a few days of crackers and gatorade, this meal brought me back to life. Colin and I ate the chicken over rice with a bit of sauce. Upon Micah’s insistence, he ate his yassa with leftover spaghetti sauce from our fridge…Let’s just say his tastes are…creative and a bit bold. He’s likes his melon with bbq sauce. Who knows, maybe someday he’ll own some exotic restaurant that creates his own world of flavors. I didn’t try eating from his bowl. Maybe it was the perfect combination. I’ll let you be the judge of whether you try it the Senegalese way or Micah’s way. 

Chicken Yassa

Hours after finishing our meal Colin came to me with a solemn look on his face and said, “well it isn’t good. I think it’s my turn for the stomach bug.” He must have been jealous of my date night with the bathroom and wanted one of his own. For the hours that we both felt good enough to make and eat this meal we were grateful. I’m grateful that Shannon shared the recipe and grateful to be nourished by such a delicious platter of food. 

It probably goes against all food blogging rules to mix paragraphs about the stomach flu and then give you details about meals and recipes and expect you to want to try them. It’s fair to say that our impression of this meal was clouded, but I hope I didn’t cloud your view of how wonderful this dish is. Read the Food52 article, be hospitable, try the chicken and rice, and at all costs avoid the stomach flu. 

Yields8 Servings

For the Marinade
 3 Garlic Cloves [Minced]
 1 lb Yellow Onion [Diced]
 2 Lemons [Juiced]
 2 tbsp Vegetable Oil
 1.50 tbsp Dijon Mustard
Chicken Yassa
 4 Chicken thighs
 4 Chicken Legs
 1 Lemon [Juiced]
 3 Garlic Cloves
 2 tbsp Vegetable Oil
 1.50 tbsp Dijon Mustard
 1 lb Yellow Onions [Sliced]
 2 tbsp Distilled White Vinegar
 10 oz Whole pimento-stuffed green olives
 1 cup Vegetable Broth
 Salt
 Pepper

The Day Before:
1

Cut slits all around the meat of the chicken thighs and legs and place the chicken in a large bowl.

2

Prepare the marinade. Mix all of the marinade ingredients well and then pour over the chicken. Mix well to ensure the chicken is evenly coated.

When you are ready to cook:
3

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

4

Cook chicken for 10 minutes and then turn over and continue cooking until the chicken is cooked through. Once cooked set aside.

5

While the chicken is cooking, make the sauce. In a very large skillet [it will need to accommodate the sauce as well as all the chicken], heat oil over medium heat. Add garlic and onions and sauté for 10 minutes.

6

Add the dijon mustard and vinegar. Stir to combine and sauté 5 additional minutes.

7

Add olives and vegetable broth. Add the chicken to the skillet and bring the mixture to a boil. Then cover skillet, reduce heat to a simmer, and cook for 45minutes. Add vegetable broth if it gets too dry and appears to be sticking or burning on the bottom.

8

Serve over rice and eat around a common bowl with friends and family.

Ingredients

For the Marinade
 3 Garlic Cloves [Minced]
 1 lb Yellow Onion [Diced]
 2 Lemons [Juiced]
 2 tbsp Vegetable Oil
 1.50 tbsp Dijon Mustard
Chicken Yassa
 4 Chicken thighs
 4 Chicken Legs
 1 Lemon [Juiced]
 3 Garlic Cloves
 2 tbsp Vegetable Oil
 1.50 tbsp Dijon Mustard
 1 lb Yellow Onions [Sliced]
 2 tbsp Distilled White Vinegar
 10 oz Whole pimento-stuffed green olives
 1 cup Vegetable Broth
 Salt
 Pepper

Directions

The Day Before:
1

Cut slits all around the meat of the chicken thighs and legs and place the chicken in a large bowl.

2

Prepare the marinade. Mix all of the marinade ingredients well and then pour over the chicken. Mix well to ensure the chicken is evenly coated.

When you are ready to cook:
3

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

4

Cook chicken for 10 minutes and then turn over and continue cooking until the chicken is cooked through. Once cooked set aside.

5

While the chicken is cooking, make the sauce. In a very large skillet [it will need to accommodate the sauce as well as all the chicken], heat oil over medium heat. Add garlic and onions and sauté for 10 minutes.

6

Add the dijon mustard and vinegar. Stir to combine and sauté 5 additional minutes.

7

Add olives and vegetable broth. Add the chicken to the skillet and bring the mixture to a boil. Then cover skillet, reduce heat to a simmer, and cook for 45minutes. Add vegetable broth if it gets too dry and appears to be sticking or burning on the bottom.

8

Serve over rice and eat around a common bowl with friends and family.

Chicken Yassa

This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. Allie,
    I’m so impressed with what you, Colin and Micah are doing with your blog and the adventure of wonderful worldly foods. As I read some of your blogs it makes me really want to be part of this experience. When you invited others to join you I just had to contact you and let you know how much I’d love to be a part of this. Pick me! Pick me!
    Love you Al,
    KO

    1. Of course you can come for dinner! I’ll connect with you to get a date on the calendar!

  2. So sorry that you got sick!!!! This is one of my all-time favorite dishes! I’ve never actually made it myself, and now I have a reason to try 🙂

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