Wednesday, April 09, 2014
Dinner Reboot: Chicken Visits a Moroccan Souk
When the sun has comes out, the last thing I want to do is be sitting at the computer checking Twitter or Facebook for the umpteenth time. So I head out with the dogs for a walk on a new route, or chuck them in the car and drive to a dog-friendly park or trail I've heard about. It's all about letting a little air into the routine, like taking a quick vacation, if only in my head.
Basking in Moroccan spices.
The same thing can be done with dinner. Tired of that same old meatloaf? Take it to Mexico with some cumin, chiles and lime, or to Greece with fresh oregano and oil-cured olives. I did it the other night with that ultimate boring protein, chicken. But did you ever consider that the bird gets that reputation because it keeps getting cooked the same old way over and over? I say take that chicken on a vacation!
Because I'd been craving some exotic spices lately, the spice market, or souk, in Morocco seemed like the perfect destination for my poultry. With a palette of colors and flavors to choose from—brilliantly yellow turmeric, smoky red paprika, the intoxicating perfume of cumin—and the zing of lemon, this chicken wasn't ever going to be called bland again.
Moroccan-style Chicken with Lemons, Olives and Carrots
2 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. ground turmeric
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. freshly ground pepper
2 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. olive oil
4 lbs. chicken thighs and legs
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 onion, chopped
4 carrots, sliced in 1/2” coins
1 lemon, sliced in half lengthwise, then in 1/4" slices crosswise or 1 roasted lemon sliced as directed
1 c. green olives, pitted
1/2 c. water
1/4 cup currants or golden raisins
Combine all the spices, including salt and pepper, in a 1-gallon zip-lock plastic bag. Place the chicken pieces in the bag with the spices and seal it. Then using your hands, squish the pieces around with the spice mixture until they're thoroughly coated. Let the chicken stand for one hour in the spices.
Heat the oil in a large, heavy-bottomed skillet on medium high heat. Remove chicken pieces from the bag and place skin side down in the skillet, browning well on both sides. Remove the chicken pieces to a platter, then add the garlic and onions to the skillet and sauté. When the onion begins to turn translucent, add carrot coins and sauté for another 3 minutes.
Remove the onion and carrot mixture to a bowl and add the chicken back to the skillet. Cover the chicken with the onion and carrot mixture. Add the lemon slices, olives, raisins and 1/2 cup water. Bring to a simmer on medium heat, then lower the heat to a low simmer, cover the skillet and cook for an additional 45 minutes until the chicken is cooked through and quite tender.
Serve with rice, couscous or quinoa.