About Me

I have been cooking my way through life for over 50 years, beginning with mud pies as a child. I've turned a corner now and feel a Renaissance in my life. Recipes and Random Thoughts is my personal spin in a blog about how to prepare good food and how it prepares you for life. I want to share with you, honest to goodness food punctuated with perspective from the special memories and moments that have marked my journey.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Moroccan Chicken

Never try something new on dinner guests.  Well, I did anyway.  I knew this group could handle a little risk. There's no set formula for this dish but there are essentials.  I was thinking Moroccan chicken should have a complex, exotic flavor and pungent aroma.  There are a good many spices to incorporate along with garlic, onion, lemon and olives.  I'd tried the spice blend on a roast whole chicken earlier and thought I'd give the tagine dish a go. The final analysis was it needed more heat and, despite the olives, more salt to bring out all the flavors I wanted.

 I was not able to locate the more traditional preserved lemons (lemons preserved in salt) often used in this dish. I grilled slices of Meyer lemons instead.  Most recipes I consulted had a modest amount of added salt so I assumed the olives or preserved lemons would take up the slack. I marinated the chicken pieces in the spices mixed with olive oil and garlic in a zip lock bag.  I do not add salt to the marinade because it makes the chicken tough. I sprinkle on just before browning the chicken.  I also removed the ribs from the chicken breast and left the skin on, then cut the breast across the middle.  It browns beautifully and the skin doesn't get flabby when braised.  This makes for uniform serving pieces and even cooking.  If you do not have a boning knife, ask you butcher to remove the ribs.  It only takes a few minutes.  I went back to the lab, made some adjustments and this is the final results.  I used my Le Creuset braiser in absence of an actual tagine cooker.  It works fine and creates flavorful, tender chicken. A lovely meal for a spring evening.  Serves 6-8.

3 chicken breasts, skin on, ribs removed and cut across the widest part to make 6 pieces
4 chicken thighs, skin on

Mix in a 1 gallon zip lock bag:

1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp tumeric
1 tsp sweet paprika
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
5 cloves of garlic crushed
1/2 tsp cayenne
1 tbls honey
1/2 cup olive oil

Add chicken pieces and mix to coat. Refrigerate at least 4 hours or over night turning at least once. Remove from marinade, drain on a rack and sprinkle on both sides with Kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper. Save the marinade.

While the chicken marinates, slice two Meyer Lemons and brush each slice with olive oil on both sides.  Grill on a grill pan for 3-4 minutes per side until just browned. Remove and set aside.

 Heat 2 tbls olive oil in heavy braising dish and brown chicken pieces in batches, skin side down, first.  Brown each side about 5 minutes.  Remove to a platter and tent with foil. Drain off all but 2 tbls fat.
Add 1 large onion sliced and 1 green pepper sliced into strips.  Cook over medium heat until the edges just begin to brown.  Add reserved garlic and cook another minute. Add chicken pieces back to pan with 2/3 cup chicken stock mixed with reserved marinade.  The liquid should come up about 1/2 way - not cover the chicken. Tuck the grilled lemon slices and 1 cup cracked, halved, pitted Greek olives around the chicken pieces and cover with lid. Place in a 350 degree oven for 45 minutes.  Remove from oven, uncover and arrange chicken, vegetables, lemons and olives over couscous (prepared with chicken stock and 1/3 cup currents).  Heat the juices on high heat and reduce until reduced by half and thickened (4-5 mins).  Adjust the seasoning, then pour over chicken and couscous.  Garnish with toasted slivered almonds and chopped flat leaf parsley or cilantro.

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