Mimi’s chicken is a homemade dish created by an Egyptian lady who lives in Cairo, named Mimi.
The story goes that Mimi invited her neighbor over for lunch and prepared an impressive chicken dish, which clearly dented the memory of her guest.
Little did Mimi know that her chicken recipe would go viral, thanks to her foodie guest. Eventually, her lunch guest, Ms. Vivian Farid was destined to become an influencer and prominent food figure later in life.
Ms. Farid, who runs the popular Instagram page @chef_vivianfarid, shared the recipe of Mimi’s chicken with her 75 K Instagram followers, which led to the inevitable stardom of Mimi’s chicken and its creator.
Objectively speaking, the succulent, complex flavor of Mimi’s chicken justifies all the rage behind it, yet it belies how simple and doable the dish is.
HOW TO MAKE MIMI’S CHICKEN
According to Ms. Farid, the chicken dish uses little spices and relies mainly on the onions that melt into a luscious sauce.
First, the chicken is slow-cooked for over 90 minutes on the stove top, until it is fully cooked and it falls off the bones. Only then, it is finished under a broiler to crisp up the skin.
For an additional layer of flavor, the chicken is smoked using a glowing, all natural piece of charcoal and hot oil or ghee. The hot charcoal nests in a heat resistant container and is snug among the chicken pieces. While it is still hot, the hot oil is added to the charcoal, which triggers the smoke. Immediately, the chicken is covered with a blanket of foil to compress the smoke for 10 minutes.
The chicken is immediately served after that last step.
I cooked this recipe several times in my kitchen, tweaking it and experimenting each time.
Instead of cooking this chicken on my stove top as the recipe asks for, I use my slow cooker to knock down the heaps of onions into a luscious, velvety sauce. Also, the compressed heat of the slow cooker (or crockpot) enhances the notes imparted by the spices.
Smoking the chicken using a glowing piece of all natural charcoal and hot oil (more details in the recipe) is totally optional. I find smoked food an acquired taste among my foodie tribe.
Adding fresh aromatic herbs such as rosemary or thyme, in addition to the spices, gives the chicken an edge, although it is totally up to you to use the spices only.
CHICKEN DRY BRINE
Dry brining the chicken overnight in the fridge ahead of cooking tremendously improves the chicken taste and tenderness. Dry brining is simple and it is nothing more than coarse salt, freshly ground pepper, and the zest of one lemon mixed together, to massage the chicken over and under the skin.
It is legit to rinse off the dry brine under running tap water before applying the chicken marinade, YET it is totally fine to just wipe off the dry brine with paper towels. That is exactly what I do to avoid splattering the raw chicken bacteria around my kitchen.
This recipe credit goes fair and square to Mimi, the creator of the recipe, and to the food and TV figure, Ms. Vivian Farid @chef_vivianfarid, who announced the recipe to the entire world throughout her popular IG account.
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Recipe adapted from Chef Vivian Farid
- 1 chicken, cut into four pieces
- 2 yellow onions, coarsely chopped, and then pureed in the food processor
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon vinegar
- 2 bay leaves
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 tablespoon Seven Lebanese spices
- 1/4 cup hot water
To Smoke the Chicken
- 1 piece of all natural hot charcoal
- 1/4 cup canola oil or ghee oil
- Make the marinade: Add together the oil, vinegar, spices and onions to the container of a food processor and blitz until all ingredients are finely blended and have a paste consistency. Massage the chicken pieces over and under the skin with the marinade paste, and let the chicken rest in the fridge, covered, for several hours or overnight.
- Cook the chicken: Arrange the pieces of marinated chicken in the pan of a slow cooker and add 1/4 cup hot water. Check every 30 minutes to make sure that there is enough liquid. Add some water if necessary. Set the slow cooker timer on low for 120 minutes first, and then increase the time if needed. The chicken is fully cooked and ready to be served when it has a deeply tanned crust, falling off the bones flesh, and a velvety sauce. It usually takes between two hours to two and a half hours to be fully cooked.
- Smoke the chicken: To add a smoky layer of flavor, heat a piece of charcoal until it is glowing. Put it in a deep bowl in the middle of the chicken pieces. Drizzle some hot oil or ghee over the hot charcoal, and once the smoke is triggered, cover immediately with aluminum foil so the smoke penetrates the chicken flesh.
- Garnish and serve: Arrange the chicken pieces on a serving dish and transfer the sauce to a sauce boat or drizzle it directly over the chicken. Serve it with vermicelli rice or green salad.