Chicken Yassa (Senegalese Chicken)

Prepare to be swept off your culinary feet with Chicken Yassa – a tantalizing dance of flavors that had me questioning four onions, but left me begging for seconds!

Two servings of Chicken Yassa with rice on a white plate served on a table.

History of Chicken Yassa

This dish originated from the Casamance region of Senegal. Chicken Yassa is also known as Poulet Yassa and is a testament to the rich culinary traditions of West Africa. Crafting this cherished African cuisine involves using local ingredients and techniques, transcending borders. It’s a special mix of chicken, onions, lemon, and mustard. This marinade highlights the region’s knack for extracting maximum flavor from homegrown ingredients.

Senegalese Chicken on a plate with rice.

Reasons to Love This Chicken Yassa

  • The combination of caramelized onions, lemon, and mustard creates a tantalizing taste that’s both tangy and savory.
  • Marinating the chicken ensures it’s wonderfully tender and infused with flavor.
  • Chicken Yassa is versatile and you can enjoy it with various side dishes, from rice to couscous.
  • Despite its complex flavors, this Poulet Yassa recipe is straightforward and manageable.
  • It’s a balanced dish with protein, vitamins, and minerals.

Recipe Ingredients

A plate of Poulet Yassa on a white plate with a fork and knife.
  • Chicken Breasts: Serving as the protein base of the dish.
  • Yellow Onions: Key for the distinctive flavor and texture.
  • Lemon Juice: Provides the tangy, citrus element in the marinade.
  • Dijon or Stone-ground Mustard: Adds depth and a hint of spice to the dish.
  • Garlic: Essential for enhancing the overall flavor profile.

See the recipe card for full information on ingredients and quantities.

Variations

  • Incorporate Chicken Broth: You can use the chicken broth or chicken stock to deglaze the pan after sautéing the onions. This not only enhances the richness and depth of the sauce’s flavor but also contributes to a richer and thicker sauce.
  • Chicken Variation: Experiment with various chicken parts. Bone-in pieces, like chicken thighs and chicken legs, contribute to a richer taste and increased juiciness. On the other hand, breast offers a leaner option. Remember that cooking times may vary slightly with different cuts.
Chicken Yassa simmering in a sauce.

How to Make Chicken Yassa (Poulet Yassa)

Step #1: Combine all the ingredients except for the last 2 tbsp. of oil in a large zip-close bag and allow the chicken to marinate in the refrigerator for 8 hours, or overnight. When ready to cook, remove the chicken from the bag but save the marinade.

Step #2: Heat a large sauté pan over medium-high heat and add 2 tbsp. of peanut or vegetable oil once hot.

Step #3: Sauté the chicken for two minutes on each side. Remove and set aside on a plate.

Step #4: Use a slotted spoon to scoop the onions out of the marinade bag and add them to the hot pan. Cook for 5 minutes. Then add the remaining marinade and bring to a boil. Cook at a boil for ten minutes.

Step #5: Continue to cook the marinade until it becomes a sauce, about 20 minutes. Reduce heat to medium. Then, return the chicken and drippings to the sauce and cover.

Step #6: Simmer until the chicken is cooked through, about another 10-15 minutes. Serve with rice.

A plate of Poulet Yassa on a white plate with a fork and knife on a table.

Expert Tips

  • Caramelize Onions Well: Cook onions until they are golden brown for a rich flavor base.
  • Deglaze the Pan: Deglazing the pan is crucial in cooking for enhancing flavor and creating sauces. By dissolving the fond – the flavorful browned bits from searing meat – into a liquid, it enriches the dish’s taste. In addition, it improves sauce texture, adds appealing color, and prevents burnt flavors.

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I make the sauce thicker?

Simmer the sauce for a longer period to reduce and thicken it, or use a bit of cornstarch slurry.

Can I make Chicken Yassa in a slow cooker?

Yes, you can. Sauté the onions first, then add all ingredients to the slow cooker and cook on low for 6-8 hours.

How do I enhance the flavor of Chicken Yassa?

Marinate the chicken longer, and ensure proper caramelization of onions for depth of flavor.

Storage Info

Store Chicken Yassa in an airtight container in the refrigerator, where it will remain good for up to 3-4 days. To freeze it, store it properly in freezer-safe containers or bags, it lasts for about 3 months. To reheat, thaw it in the fridge if frozen, then warm it in a microwave or on the stove over medium heat until heated through.

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Chicken Yassa served on a white plate.

Chicken Yassa Recipe (Senegalese Chicken)

Prepare to be swept off your culinary feet with Chicken Yassa – a tantalizing dance of flavors that had me questioning four onions, but left me begging for seconds!
4.4 from 97 votes
Pin Rate
Course: Main Dish
Cuisine: African
Diet: Gluten Free, Dairy Free
Prep Time: 8 hours
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 9 hours
Servings: 6
Calories: 1694kcal
Author: Linda
Print Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup peanut oil - or vegetable oil
  • 3 boneless - skinless chicken breasts, cut in half horizontally to make two thin fillets
  • 4 large yellow onions - roughly chopped
  • 8 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 8 tbsp cider vinegar
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 4 cloves garlic - minced
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard or stone-ground mustard
  • 1 jalapeno pepper - seeded and finely chopped (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons peanut or vegetable oil

Instructions

  • Combine all the ingredients except for the last 2 tbsp. of oil in a large zip-close bag and allow the chicken to marinate in the refrigerator for 8 hours, or overnight. When ready to cook, remove the chicken from the bag but save the marinade.
  • Heat a large sauté pan over medium-high heat and add 2 tbsp. of peanut or vegetable oil once hot.
  • Sauté the chicken for two minutes on each side. Remove and set aside on a plate.
  • Use a slotted spoon to scoop the onions out of the marinade bag and add them to the hot pan. Cook for 5 minutes. Then add the remaining marinade and bring to a boil. Cook at a boil for ten minutes.
  • Continue to cook the marinade until it becomes a sauce, about 20 minutes. Reduce heat to medium. Then, return the chicken and drippings to the sauce and cover.
  • Simmer until the chicken is cooked through, about another 10-15 minutes. Serve with rice.

NOTES

Storage Info:
Store Chicken Yassa in an airtight container in the refrigerator, where it will remain good for up to 3-4 days. To freeze it, store it properly in freezer-safe containers or bags, it lasts for about 3 months. To reheat, thaw it in the fridge if frozen, then warm it in a microwave or on the stove over medium heat until heated through.

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 1694kcal | Carbohydrates: 10g | Protein: 247g | Fat: 67g | Saturated Fat: 17g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 13g | Monounsaturated Fat: 27g | Trans Fat: 0.03g | Cholesterol: 691mg | Sodium: 985mg | Potassium: 4274mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 103IU | Vitamin C: 17mg | Calcium: 83mg | Iron: 6mg

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About the Author

Linda

Hi, I'm Linda! Welcome to The Wanderlust Kitchen, where I share recipes and travel adventures from all around the world. Here you'll find a world of recipes you can have confidence in. These recipes celebrate authentic food heritage as well as modern techniques and ingredients. Be adventurous and try a new recipe and travel somewhere you have never been before.  Bon Appétit! Bon Voyage!  

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