Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Moroccan-Inspired Braised Chicken



One of my dreams is to visit Morocco one day. Okay, let’s dream bigger than that. I actually want to travel the world. It’s probably everyone’s wish list at the moment, right? Well, someone asked me what cuisine I'm specializing. The moment I heard that question, my mind went blank. You’ve go to be kidding me. I absolutely have no idea. To specialize in a particular cuisine, you have to move to another country and learn about their food. That’s not all, you have to learn about their culture and traditions, shop at the farmer’s market, know what’s in season and mingle with the locals. And you have to stay long enough to dedicate yourself to their cuisine until it becomes second nature. It sounds like a great plan. You may not stay in a particular country long enough but visiting a foreign land is one of the best ways to learn about life.



The inspiration for this dish is the use of earthy spices, the addition of olives and dried fruit as well as of chickpeas and herbs. They are really great for a gloomy day to perk up your spirits. This is not a traditional recipe but I’ve always love the diverse cuisines of Moroccan flavors which is a mix of different influences from the Arabs, African, Mediterranean and the Middle East. I have never been to Morocco and never had eaten in an authentic Moroccan restaurant but the exotic and sophisticated Moroccan food and culture is simply irresistible.

For this dish, I’m using some chicken thighs which are cheaper than lamb. If you’re going to remove the skin after cooking, season the chicken meat under the skin as well. But I completely seasoned the skin as most of the spices will blend into the sauce. That’s right, leave the skin on as they provide good flavor. Don't be afraid of fat from meat. They may contain saturated fat but they are also important for our body in moderation. You can also add the spices while you’re sweating your onion and just simply season the chicken with salt and pepper.



Some people hate olives but I love them. The secret to loving olives is to combine them with other ingredients and the dried apricots which are sweet, goes well with it. If you happen to have some preserved lemon prepared, that would be a great addition too. And braising is such a wonderful cooking method as it allows the dish to cook slowly to blend all the flavors. Here's a video lesson from Rouxbe Online Cooking School about braising.

Instead of couscous, I am pairing this with millet which I happen to have in the fridge. I also find that the millet is fluffier the next day. So, after cooking the millet, allow them to cool quickly and store in the fridge covered, and steam the millet with a little bit of water the following day. The result is still fantastic.



Moroccan-Inspired Braised Chicken

1 tsp smoked paprika
1 ½ tsp ground coriander
1 ½ tsp ground cumin
½ tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper or to taste
unrefined sea salt
fresh cracked black pepper

8 bone-in chicken thighs

2-3 tbsp extra light olive oil or grapeseed oil

1 onion
2 cloves garlic
1-inch piece fresh ginger root
½ cup dry white wine
2 tsp tomato paste
½ cup sulfur-free dried apricots
½ cup kalamata olives
1 cup cooked chickpeas
1 can 14-oz chopped tomatoes (400g)
½ -1 cup chicken stock
1 tbsp honey
1 bay leaf

1/4 cup cilantro leaves
1/4 cup mint leaves

To prepare the chicken thighs, combine the paprika coriander, cumin, cinnamon and cayenne in a small bowl. Then, wash and dry the chicken thighs and trim off the excess fat and skin. Place in a sheet pan and season the chicken on both sides with the spices, salt and black pepper. Let stand for 5 minutes.

To brown the chicken thighs, heat a large heavy-bottomed pan with lid. When the pan is hot, add enough oil to coat bottom of the pan. Add the chicken, skin side down and cook until the chicken is brown on both sides, about 10 minutes total.

Once all of the chicken has been browned, turn off the heat, remove the chicken from the pan and set aside. Drain some of the excess oil and reserve the untouched pan for later use.

To cook the sauce, peel and chop the onions, emince the garlic (see video below) and mince the ginger. Cut the apricots in half, pit and halve the olives. Measure and gather the white wine, tomato paste, cooked chickpeas, canned tomatoes, chicken stock, honey and bay leaf.

Rouxbe Online Cooking School & Video Recipes

Using the same pan, turn on the heat to medium. Add more oil if needed, then add the onions and sweat until soft and translucent. Add the garlic and ginger and sauté for another minute. Deglaze with white wine. Once the white wine has been reduced, stir in the tomato paste and stir to combine. Then, add the apricots, olives, chickpeas, tomatoes, half of the chicken stock and honey. Stir everything together and add the bay leaf. Place the chicken on the sauce on a single layer skin side up. If you need more liquid, add more chicken stock to cover the chicken by two-thirds. Bring the dish to a simmer, cover and cook until the chicken is tender for about 30-35 minutes.

Alternatively, you can also braise the chicken in a 350 degrees Fahrenheit (175 degree Celsius) oven for about 30-40 minutes or until the chicken is fork tender.

Once the dish is ready, season to taste with salt if necessary and let the dish sit for about 10 minutes before serving.

To serve the dish, remove the cilantro and mint leaves from the stem and roughly chop. Sprinkle over the dish and serve with steamed millet, couscous, soft polenta or pasta and an antioxidant salad.

Notes:

Gluten-Free; Dairy-Free

Print Recipe

58 comments:

  1. That braised dish looks truly inspiring Divina! I totally agree about how we can't really say we specialize in any dish unless we immerse ourselves in the culture, history etc. But at least we take little bites of different cuisines when we cook them.

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  2. simply irresistible!marrocan flavours,i'm ready to come(because and i dream to travel the world,too :))) !a happy day,divine!

    alison,simon's mother

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  3. These look fantastic! I've made some with red wine stew and my kids love it too. I'll sure try this one here. This recipe reminds me of our local 'Ayam masak merah'! They're more or less the same except we make it sweet & spicy and omit the wine. Btw, Happy thanksgiving to you & your family. Hope you all have a wonderful time. Cheers.

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  4. I love moroccan herbs and spices. They are very comforting and warming. Maybe add some preserved lemons? It adds a zing and a depth to the overall dish.

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  5. Hi - New to your blog. Just found it via another blog.I'm bookmarking you and will be back to read more. Your recipes look delicious!
    Salamat,
    Pamela

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  6. Divina,
    This looks fantastic! I love the flavors in the sauce.

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  7. @ Penny - I would love to have it with preserved lemons. :D

    @ Kristy - I would like to try the Asian version.

    @ Simon - thank you. Hope you travel around the world too and have a happy day as well.

    @ Trissa - you're absolutely right. :d

    @ Erica - thank you. :D

    @ Pamela - thanks for visiting. Hope you visit again soon. Thank you.

    @ Laura - Thank you. :D

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  8. Hi Divina! That chicken looks awesome! I just got a new pan for braising chicken so I will be making this soon. I especially love the photo of the chicken in the pan. Great color and I can almost taste the crisp.

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  9. fantastic dish, I'm loving the flavors and spices in here. I can almost smell the delicious aroma just from looking at that first photo

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  10. Morocco is always one of the places I really want to go before I die. The people there are always beautiful, same as their art, architecture and culture.
    Of course no doubt about the food too!
    Love your chicken with the blend of spices!

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  11. Your magic words: Moroccan, Gluten-free, Dairy-free. I will really make time to try this for the family! thanks again!

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  12. I want to travel too! So badly. Having time and money simultaneously is a real trick, isn't it? These spices and flavors look amazing!

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  13. Oh yum! I love the color you got on that chicken, and the apricots and olives have hooked me! Sounds lovely!

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  14. This look awesome. I love anything with those Moroccan spices....

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  15. This is divine..I once made a moroccon rub ( Rach Ray) and then braised lamb chops( http://food-thought-for.blogspot.com/2009/09/chop-chop.html). But these look not only healthier...but also tastier! I will definitely give these a try. Looks gorgeous :)

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  16. Have never tried a Moroccan dish. Heard a lot about the delicacy of Moroccan food. This dish proves it....looks very delicious.

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  17. This is such a beautiful dish! I love all of the spices.

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  18. mmm very yummy!
    looks all sorts of delicious here =)

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  19. Yum Yum Yum!!! This looks really tasty!

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  20. Love the vivid colour of this dish. Look so YUM!

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  21. Hi Divina. Thanks for your comment on my site and for stopping by. Just wanted to stop by and tell you that it really is so easy to change up your blogger template. You had mentioned that you wish you could. There are so many great free templates out there. Simply Fabulous Blogger Templates are my favorite and so easy to upload. I have a few tips I can share with you if you decide you want to change it. Have a great day!

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  22. Hi Divina,
    This sound (and looks) great. I like to use pork in these recipes also - although I know a lot of people don't eat - it is tasty! I also add a bit of cayenne since a little spice is so nice. Beautiful photos too.

    As I absolutely love Mediterranean cooking as well I have to mention these books to you - not sure if you have them - they are both fantastic! 'Spice' by Ana Sortun who studied in Turkey I have worked with her and she is great. Also, Arabesque by Claudia Roden. I don't know anything about her but I have her book and it's amazing.

    Cheers!

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  23. @ Jessie - thank you. :D

    @ lululu - you're absolutely right. There's something magical about that country.

    @ Mom-Friday - glad you like the magic words.

    @ Corrine - thanks. enjoy your new braising pan.

    @ Dawn - thanks a lot. :D

    @ Mardi - thank you.

    @ Rabbittrick - yummy indeed.

    @ Jhonny walker - thank you.

    @ Tastry Trix - I have the time now, I just don't have the money (yet). :D

    @ Fresh local and best - Thank you.

    @ Ellie - thank you.

    @ Kari - thanks for sharing the link. I will let you know. :D

    @ Amber - thanks for the book recommendations. The title is sounds exotic that I want to buy them already.

    @ CAHIDE - thank you.

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  24. This one is a winner! For sure!

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  25. I've a friend that visited twice and Morocco is heaven for foodies!

    So brilliant chicken recipe, like comfort food for me, all the ingredients I love :)

    Cheers!

    Gera

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  26. wonderful stew i love your cooking and I am getting inspired to get millet

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  27. WOW! What a beautiful dish and I would definitely like to cook this.

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  28. Divina you get an excellent cook!

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  29. Wow the sauce looks amazing! All the spices and wine makes it really tasty!

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  30. Looks sooooo good!! I can almost smell it... beautiful pictures :o) I an thankful for you too!!

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  31. These are SO my flavors: big, robust, all over the globe (at least the Mediterranean/African part!) Brilliant post. Thanks!

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  32. looks like a great recipe! i hope to try this one out soon, especially since most of the ingredients are easily available at the supermarket (except for apricots -- will have to look for that one). i actually already tried out this dish courtesy of your sis susana. it reminded me of the mediterranean/persian dishes i've had in restaurants here. the flavor and aroma were very authentic :)

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  33. got here via Mary's blog, great looking blog you have here!!

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  34. Hi, Divine :)

    ..me too! It's my dream to travel to Morocco and across Europe (aboard the Orient Express) if not the world..I'm wating for my fairly oddparents to make it all come true hahaha :)

    ...I love chicken and this dish is calling out to me, just look at the list of spices, I'm sure my husband will love this too :)

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  35. Looks like it's bursting with flavor - really great looking photo to present it too!

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  36. Hi Divina
    we are use d to moroccan food because we have this type of reestaurants here and your dish looks scrumptious bravo to you !! Pierre

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  37. Never had the opportunity to try a Moroccan dish, but this sure looks delicious, looks a bit like chicken cooked in tomato.

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  38. Hey Divina! You can use any kind of brown rice for the pancakes. I used jasmin brown rice :o)

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  39. Beautiful recipe. And the color is so vibrant! I love the mix of spices and flavors. When I whittle down our Thanksgiving leftovers and I need to cook again, I'll have to see about having our kitchen take a virtual trip to Morocco!

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  40. The flavors sound amazing! A wonderful meal!

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  41. What fabulous flavors! I would love to go to morocco someday, too!

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  42. Hey, these pix are so well-taken! I'm not quite a fan of moroccan food but this sure looks tempting :)

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  43. i hav some preserved lemons in a jar, should give this recipe a try with some modifications ~

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  44. Wow...that's an awesome recipe... flavorful, tempting, aromatic and yum......

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  45. I love Moroccan food! And visiting Morocco is definitely on my list of things to do in life! Your photos are absolutely delicious!

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  46. What BEAUTIFUL colors Divina!!! Your pictures are really fantastic. I have never tried Moroccan food but I love how they play with the sweet and savory -- I definitely want to try this it looks fantastic. I also like that you've paired it with the millet, I really wish I could have this in front of me now.

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  47. Thighs are my fave part of the chicken and that dish rocks. Love the yellow rice too :)

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  48. Looks amazing. I've also been eager to visit Morocco myself. It's very interesting what Moroccans do with chicken. Sometimes they even put powdered sugar on it.

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  49. oh my the color is soooo bright it hurt my eyes. Totally awesome looking dish divina! You are such a great cook. I can't believe you want to open a raw food restaurant instead. :)

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  50. This looks amazing and what bold flavors. Thanks, I can always use another delicious chicken recipe!

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  51. I love moroccan food. We have a large moroccan population here in my town, and so we have some really good restaurants. I love the spices and the tagines and the way that the food is presented. Hospitality!

    Thanks for this recipe. It's a keeper!

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  52. I love Moroccan food--the spices, the presentation, the mix of flavors. We have a large Moroccan population here in my town and so we have some really nice restaurants. Also some markets. WAHOO!

    Thanks for posting this.

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  53. What a beautiful recipe. My husband has travelled to Morocco - has some friends from there - and always talks about the food.

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  54. The recipe is marvelous but your photographs take it to a whole new level!. Just gorgeous!

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  55. Wow this look marvelous, and I'm totally with you on not specializing in one country's cuisine. I love how you took inspiration from the Mediterranean spices and ingredients and did you own thing with it. It looks delicious!

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  56. Wow..that looks great, I love Moroccan flavors, and it's so aromatic.

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Your comments, suggestions, feedback are all welcome.