Chicken Braised with Saffron, Cinnamon, and Lavender

There is a complexity of flavors in this dish--ranging from the floral notes of lavender, to the warm flavors of cinnamon and coriander, to the pungent combination of saffron, vodka, and balsamic vinegar.

Country of Origin
Preparation time

2 tbsp. olive-y and peppery olive oil
4 whole chicken legs, thigh and drumstick separated, or 1 whole chicken, cut up
2 small onions, chopped
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. coriander
Coarse sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup dry sherry or Marsala
1/2 tsp. saffron threads dissolved in 1 tbsp. very hot water
2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup vodka
1 heaping tbsp. dried lavender buds
1 tbsp. honey
1 cup chopped toasted almonds


1. Heat a large, heavy Dutch oven over medium heat until the edges are warm to the touch, then add olive oil. When oil is hot and shimmery and is beginning to thin and flow, add pieces of chicken, skin side down, until floor of pot is filled. Don't overcrowd the pot. You will need to brown chicken in at least two batches unless the pan is very large. As pieces brown, turn them over and brown other side. Remove browned pieces and place on a platter. When all chicken is browned, drain off all but very thin film of fat and oil.

2. Add onions to Dutch oven and cook over low heat until limp and translucent, 5 to 10 minutes. Add cinnamon, coriander, and salt and pepper to taste and cook another 1 to 2 minutes. Mix in sherry, dissolved saffron, 1/2 cup water, and balsamic vinegar. Return chicken to pan, cover tightly, and cook slowly, over lowest possible heat, turning once, until just cooked through, about 45 minutes. Remove chicken pieces and pour excess fat into defatting pitcher or skim off with spoon. There will be about 1 1/4 cups liquid.

3. About 20 minutes before serving, in a small saucepan, heat vodka to just below boiling point; do not boil. Remove from heat and add lavender buds. Allow to steep 15 minutes. Then strain out and discard flowers and return vodka to the saucepan. Add the defatted pan juices and heat to cook off alcohol, 3 to 4 minutes.

4. Return the chicken and the sauce to the Dutch oven, and heat gently until warmed through. Pour honey over top. Serve topped with toasted almonds