Poulet Yassa is a spicy, lemon dish with chicken (poulet, in French) and carmelized onions served over rice. Originally Senegambian, Yassa has become popular throughout West Africa. Visitors to Senegal love Yassa - can't get enough Yassa! It's so good that we actually served this at our wedding rehearsal dinner!
Chez Mamy's in Dakar
2 lbs chicken pieces (or one chicken leg per person)
2 lbs onions, chopped or sliced (at least 2-3 medium onions per person)
4-5 sliced carrots (not traditional yassa ingredient, but we like it)
1/2 cup oil
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
2 Tbsp bouillon
dried hot peppers or hot pepper sauce (we use Scotch Bonnet)
2-3 lemons (juice)
6 cups cooked rice
Sliced green peppers and tomatoes
Heat oil over medium-high heat. Add chicken pieces carefully. Cook until browned and juices run clear, about 15-20 minutes. Flip occasionally to keep from overcooking.
Fried chicken waiting...
As chicken cooks, slice onions into thin "smiley faces".
Once chicken is cooked, put it aside on a plate lined with paper towels.
Cutting the onions takes a while, but don't skimp! They cook down a lot!
Save 1/2 oil. Reduce heat to lowest setting. Add onions and sauté very slowly (2 hours absolute minimum) until caramelized and light yellow in color. Stir the onions every 15 minutes or so. If after 30 minutes they don't look very different, you've probably got the heat on just right. At an hour they should just begin to be translucent. At two hours they should be floppy. Keep going! But don't turn up the heat. The slower, the better. Really good Yassa needs at least six hours!
Onions after about 30 minutes
Onions after about two hours
Onions after about three hours
Once the onions are completely carmelized, add Dijon, lemon juice, bouillon, hot pepper, salt, and pepper. (This is where we add cooked, sliced carrots.) Turn up the heat to med-low. Let simmer for about an hour, stirring and tasting every 15 minutes until just how you want it.
Sauce Maggi and Dijon mustard
Here's a tasting guide:
- If too bland, add bouillon and Dijon
- If not too lemony, add just a bit more
- If not quite spicy enough, slowly add more pepper and hot pepper sauce
- If you have sauce Maggi, use it!
- some people add a few Tbsp vinegar and/or soy sauce
Add chicken 15 minutes before serving, or sooner if you want the meat to fall off the bones.
Serve over white rice and top with freshly sliced veggies.
The final version - modified a la Masson