Saturday, May 29, 2010

Moroccan Chicken

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Since moving to the suburbs, one thing I do miss is the accessibility of good Moroccan cuisine. I especially like Moroccan cuisine during the spring and summer months because of the exotic and bright flavors. With a craving for Moroccan cuisine grumbling in my stomach, I'm glad to have come across this recipe for Moroccan Chicken that highlights a wonderful combination of aromatic spices and tender, braised chicken...

Traditionally, Moroccan cuisine makes use of tagine pots, a special piece of cookware that does a great job at braising meats at a low temperature. I don't have a tagine nor is it really necessary to cook with one for good Moroccan fare. In fact, you could use a Dutch oven or even a slow cooker/crockpot, just as I have done to prepare this dish. The chicken is coated with a mix of spices before browning. Then the chicken is placed in a slow cooker/crockpot along with other ingredients and slowly braises. The result is an extremely flavorful and tender chicken dish, that's best served with couscous or even rice. I've included a tip on how to make this dish ahead of time and/or for your freezer so a good Moroccan dish is never too much effort to make!

Moroccan Chicken 
recipe adapted from Cook's Illustrated

2 teaspoons sweet paprika
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground coriander
salt and ground black pepper
3 tablespoons olive oil
8 bone in, skin on chicken thighs (about 3 pounds), trimmed of excess fat
1 large onion, halved and sliced thin
2 tablespoons water
4 medium garlic cloves, minced
2 bay leaves
2 cups low sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup golden raisins
1 (2-inch) strip of lemon peel
3 tablespoons juice from 1 lemon
1/2 cup kalamata olives, pitted and coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley or cilantro leaves


Combine paprika, cumin, ginger, coriander, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon black pepper and 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large bowl. Pat dry the chicken thighs with paper towels, then place in the bowl with the spices. Coat chicken with the spices.

Heat the remaining tablespoon of olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add half of the chicken thighs, skin side down, and cook without moving until lightly browned. Flip chicken and continue to cook until second side of golden. Transfer browned chicken to a plate and set aside. Repeat with remaining chicken thighs. Place chicken in a slow cooker/crockpot.

Add onion and water to the same skillet and return to medium high heat. Cook, scraping the brown bits on the bottom until the onion has softened and begins to brown. Place the onions in the slow cooker/crockpot.

Add the minced garlic, bay leaves, raisins, lemon peel, olives and chicken broth to the crock pot. Cover and cook on low for 4-6 hours or high for 2-4 hours.

To serve, add lemon juice to dish and stir. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Pour sauce over the chicken and sprinkle with parsley or cilantro.

* To make ahead/freezer meal - Prepare chicken as directed above and allow to cool. Place cooled, cooked chicken in a gallon sized freezer bag. Prepare the onions as directed above and place in the same gallon sized freezer bag. Add the minced garlic, bay leaves, raisins, lemon peel,and olives in the freezer bag; seal and freeze. When ready to prepare, defrost completely. Place contents of freezer bag in a slow cooker/crockpot. Add the chicken broth to the slow cooker/crockpot and cover. Cook on low for 4-6 hours or high for 2-4 hours. To serve, add lemon juice to dish and stir. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Pour sauce over the chicken and sprinkle with parsley or cilantro.

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