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Eggplant Caponata with Crispy Chicken Thighs

Active Time: 45-50 minutes / Cook Time: 30-35 / minutes / Total Time: 75-85 minutes

Makes 4 servings

Chef’s Tip: Unless you are using a squeeze tube of tomato paste, separate remaining paste into tablespoons and freeze flat on a parchment-lined baking dish that will fit in your freezer. When frozen, peel the tomato paste off, pop it into a plastic bag, and store it in the freezer. It will keep up to six months.

Ingredients:

  • Chicken:
    • 2 teaspoons ghee
    • 4 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
    • 1/4 teaspoon each fine sea salt and ground black pepper
  • Eggplant Caponata:
    • 1 tablespoon coconut oil, plus more if necessary
    • 2 celery stalks, diced
    • 1 small red bell pepper, chopped
    • 1 small onion, peeled and diced
    • 1 medium eggplant (about 1 lb.)
    • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
    • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
    • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
    • 1/2 tablespoon tomato paste*
    • 1/2 lb. plum tomatoes, cored and chopped
    • 1 tablespoon capers
    • 2 tablespoons raisins (optional)
    • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
    • 1 tablespoon raw honey
    • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
    • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
    • 1/4 cup shredded basil, parsley, and/or mint

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 425° F. Heat ghee in an ovenproof medium sauté pan over medium-high heat. Sprinkle salt and pepper over both sides of the chicken and place skin-side down in the pan. Cover with a splatter screen or piece of aluminum foil. Do not move it for at least 5-8 minutes. It will release easily when the skin is rendered and crispy.
  2. Flip the chicken over and carefully transfer the pan to the oven. Depending on the size of the chicken thighs, roast for 20-30 minutes or until cooked through. When done, set aside until the caponata is cooked.
  3. While the chicken is cooking, heat the coconut oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the celery, bell pepper, and onion and cook, stirring occasionally, for 3-5 minutes, or until the vegetables are starting to soften. Push them to one side of the pan and add the eggplant; if it immediately soaks up all of the oil, add 1/2 tablespoon more. Cook, undisturbed, until the eggplant starts to brown on one side, 4-5 minutes. Stir all of the vegetables together.
  4. Add garlic, oregano, red pepper flakes, and tomato paste to the pan. Stir until everything is well-combined, and cook 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes, capers, and raisins and cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes. Turn off the heat and add the vinegar, honey, and salt. Stir well to combine. Taste; there should be a sweet-tart balance between the vinegar and honey. Add a splash of either to correct the balance, if necessary. Stir in the olive oil and fresh herbs.
  5. Serve 1 chicken thigh and 1/4 of the caponata per person for dinner tonight, and package the remaining chicken and caponata for lunch tomorrow.