But before I tell you all about it, I really appreciated everyone that commented/emailed me suggestions. Thanks to you, I now have some great ideas for next time. Keep those ideas coming; I love hearing about what other people would make…sort of like a virtual Iron Chef competition!
Anyways, back to the chicken. When I saw Angie’s suggestion to go with a Moroccan theme, I knew that was right up my alley. Have you ever had Moroccan food? I hadn’t up until a few months ago, and I’m thoroughly confused as to why I had never tried it because it is certifiably delicious. If you haven’t ever had it, the cuisine is a mix of Mediterranean, Arab, and African influences, among others, and utilizes delicious spices (cinnamon, cumin, ginger, tumeric, paprika, saffron, and mint, to name a few), dried fruits, and nuts to their full potential. How could you go wrong with all of those fabulous things, really? Oh yes, and Moroccan food is traditionally cooked in a tagine (basically a heavy clay pot that is made up of 2 parts – a circular base and a cone-shaped lid that fits onto the base for cooking) but since I don’t have one of those (not that it is at all related, but my birthday is coming up…) I’m just going to demonstrate using a enamel-coated cast iron pot.
So come on now, pour yourself a cup of (mint) tea and come join me in my kitchen!
We are going to need…
Cinnamon, ginger, tumeric, salt, pepper, oil, butter, chicken, onion, garlic, cilantro, parsley, chicken stock, honey, cinnamon stick, apricots, and almonds.
First things first: the chicken has to be cut up into 8 pieces or so. I would show you pictures…but let’s just say it wasn’t pretty.
(Ok, the truth is I didn’t want to have to wash my hands a million times in between cutting the chicken and taking pictures, and I thought you’d understand.)
Now that that’s out of the way, let’s get this show on the road!
Toast up some spices:
That’s roughly 1 tsp of cinnamon, 1 tsp of ginger, and 1/2 tsp of tumeric, in case you’re wondering. Be careful not to let them burn though!
Meanwhile, in a large bowl put 1 tsp of salt, 1/2 tsp of black pepper, and about 2 TBSP of oil. When the spices are fragrant, add them to the bowl too and stir everything to combine.
Now we’re talking!
Go ahead and add the chicken pieces, and toss everything to coat.
Let the chicken hang out for a bit while you heat up the pan with some oil…and maybe some butter for good measure. IF you had any doubt about this being good, which I’m sure you didn’t but just in case, you should know now without a shadow of a doubt that this will be fabulous that since there is buttter involved. Yes, I read minds. And I’m here all week.
Working with about half of the chicken pieces at a time, brown them in the hot oil/butter (skin side down) and then flip to the other side to brown it too. Don’t overcrowd the pan or rush this process!
Remove the chicken pieces and repeat with the remaining pieces in the same manner.
While the chicken is browning, slice up one red onion.
And eventually, remove the 2nd batch of chicken to rest for a few minutes:
In the same pot that you toasted the spices, and browned the chicken (let’s be honest – NO ONE likes doing more dishes than necessary) cook the onion until its softened. Don’t forget to add some salt for good measure too! Once the onion is soft, add about 4 cloves of garlic that have been minced and continue to cook for another 3 minutes or so (or as long as it takes you to load your dishwasher if you’re me). This is getting serious. I’m not sure I can handle it anymore!
Sigh – no quitting at half-time, at least not when raw chicken is involved. Once the onion and garlic have gotten thoroughly acquainted like the long-lost friends that they are, add the chicken (and any juices that are on the plate that it was resting on) back in, along with 1/2 c of chicken stock and a handful of both parsley and cilantro.
Stir the whole lot up and put the lid on. Reduce the heat and simmer for about 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a separate pot, bring 1 c of chicken stock, about 2 TBSP of honey, a cinnamon stick, 1/2 c of apricots (that have been halved), and about 1/3 c of almonds to a boil.
(I was cooking for someone with a nut allergy, so I just added the almonds in at the end after hers had been dished out but I’m sure it would have been even better if the almonds have been allowed to soak up the honey-cinnamony-apricot goodness).
Once it’s come to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for about 10-15 minutes or until its developed a glaze-like consistency. If you need to add some more water or chicken stock to keep the apricots from drying out, you have my permission.
Let’s go check on the chicken, shall we?
YUM.I have no words…
Well actually, I do have a few more things to say. Unless you like eating springs of parsley and cilantro straight-up, we should probably remove them. I could have made this process easier on myself by tying them together with kitchen twine, but I like to do things the hard way. When that’s all taken care of, add the apricot/almond glaze to the chicken…
…and stir it up. Talk about sensory overload! This is going to be good; I just feel it.
Serve the chicken and sauce over couscous and with a cup of mint tea for a more authentic Moroccan experience if you feel so inclined. Whatever you do, don’t wait as long as I did to try Moroccan food – I’m sure you will find it as much of a good thing as I did!