This is a Moroccan-inspired dish. The flavorful broth is absolutely perfect with couscous, rice, or quinoa. For a vegetarian version, omit the chicken, use vegetable stock, add a few other vegetables, and stir in a cup or so drained, canned chickpeas or a generous 1/4 cup dried chickpeas that you’ve soaked overnight and cooked until tender, about 1 1/2 hours.–Anjum Anand
LC One Saucepan, One Love Note
If you have a saucepan, a knife, a mortar and pestle, and a functional stove top—or even a hot plate—you can toss this supper together. (And heck, you can always borrow the mortar and pestle from a neighbor.) Remarkably, that’s all it takes for you to lend a warming fragrance and flavor to plain old chicken thighs and veggies–not to mention your entire house. The pan sauce of sorts that results is satisfyingly soupy and stewy, with a consistency that you can tweak to taste, an aroma that’s impossible to forget, and a flavor that’s liltingly, hauntingly complex for something so simple. One saucepan. One love. And one exceptionally tender, spice-infused bird. Talk about an excuse to invite friends over with the words, “Let’s get together and feel all right.” (Yes, we know, Bob Marley was Jamaican and not Moroccan. But trust us, this braise will make you want to join hands with your chums and hum reggae, too.)
Braised Moroccan Chicken Recipe
Hands-On Time: 35 minutes | Total Time: 1 hour, 10 minutes | Serves 4
- 2-inch cinnamon stick
- 1 1/2 teaspoons sesame seeds
- 1 1/4 teaspoons cumin seeds
- 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 medium to large onion, thinly sliced into wedges
- 4 fat garlic cloves, grated into a paste
- 3/4 teaspoon ginger paste or grated ginger mashed on cutting board
- 3/4 teaspoon caraway seeds
- 1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika
- 4 small chicken thighs, bone-in, skinless, trimmed of all fat
- 2 cups chicken stock or vegetable stock
- Salt and lots of freshly ground black pepper
- 2 teaspoons tomato paste
- 1 small carrot, sliced on the diagonal
- 1 small zucchini, sliced on the diagonal
- 6 large dates (or other dried fruit such as figs or apricots), quartered lengthwise
- Large handful fresh parsley leaves, chopped
- 1. Grind the cinnamon, sesame seeds, and cumin seeds together to make a fine powder—this is quite a quick job when you use a mortar and pestle although a spice or coffee grinder also works well.
- 2. Heat the oil in a large saucepan, add the onion, and cook gently over medium-ish or medium-high-ish heat until soft and coloring at the edges. Stir in the garlic and ginger and cook, stirring, until fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes. (If the aromatics look as though they may scorch, carefully add a small splash of water to the pan.) Stir in the ground spices, the caraway seeds, and the paprika and stir to create a spice paste of sorts.
- 3. Add the chicken, stock, salt and pepper, and tomato paste to the pan, turning to coat the chicken, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover, and simmer gently for 18 minutes. Add the carrot, cover the pan again, and cook for about 8 minutes. Add the zucchini, cover, and cook for 6 to 7 minutes, until the chicken and vegetables are both cooked through and tender. Add the dates and stir to coat. Adjust the pan sauce to the desired consistency, if necessary, by either adding a splash of water if it seems too thick or allowing the braise to simmer, uncovered, until some of the liquid evaporates if it seems too thin. Stir in the parsley. Spoon the chicken and vegetables and sauce onto individual plates or a single platter and serve at once.
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Braised Moroccan Chicken Recipe © 2011 Anjum Anand. Photo © 2011 Lisa Linder. All rights reserved.