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    Seasonal Recipes

    Recipe: Dates, oranges, olives, and other tastes of the Middle East in an elegant chicken dish for two

    Chicken breasts with dates, oranges, and olives
    Karoline Boehm Goodnick for The Boston Globe
    Chicken breasts with dates, oranges, and olives

    Serves 2

    Chicken breasts for you and your sweetie are elegant here, served on a bed of pearled couscous. Sprinkle them with aromatic spices and cook with dates and green olives to give them flavors of the Middle East. You never brown the chicken on the stovetop, so it skips that messy step; in the oven the meat turns golden and the skin crisps.

    ½teaspoon ground cumin
    ½teaspoon ground cinnamon
    ¼teaspoon cayenne pepper
    Salt and pepper, to taste
    2bone-in split chicken breasts
    1large navel orange
    2tablespoons olive oil
    1shallot, chopped
    1cup halved, pitted dates
    ½cup pitted green olives, halved
    1cup chicken stock
    2tablespoons white wine vinegar
    6cups water
    2cups pearled couscous
    Olive oil (for sprinkling)
    ¼cup chopped fresh parsley

    1. Set the oven at 425 degrees.

    2. In a small bowl, stir the cumin, cinnamon, and cayenne to blend them. Sprinkle the spice mixture and salt on all sides of the chicken breasts.


    3. Grate the orange rind; set aside. With a small paring knife, remove the white pith from the orange and cut the flesh into segments.

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    4. In a heavy-based flameproof casserole over medium-high heat, heat the oil. Add the shallot and cook, stirring often, for 3 minutes. Stir in the dates, olives, chicken stock, vinegar, and orange segments. Set the breasts on top, skin side up. Bring the liquid to a boil, cover the pan. and transfer to the oven.

    5. Cook the chicken for 20 minutes. Remove the lid from the chicken and continue cooking for 20 to 30 minutes, or until a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the breasts registers 165 degrees. (Total cooking time is 40 to 50 minutes.)

    6. Meanwhile, in a saucepan, bring the water to a boil with a pinch of salt. Add the couscous and let the water return to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 10 to 12 minutes, or until tender. Drain but do not rinse. In a bowl, toss the couscous with olive oil, salt, pepper, and half the parsley.

    7. Spoon the couscous onto a platter. Place the chicken on top. Stir the orange rind into the chicken cooking juices and spoon them on the breasts. Sprinkle with the remaining parsley. Karoline Boehm Goodnick

    Karoline Boehm Goodnick can be reached at