Saturday, April 11, 2009

Braised Moroccan Chicken

This may be surprising to many of you who know me, but I think my food flavor soul mate is actually Moroccan. I cook mostly Mexican, French, and plain-old American food at home, but the combination of mint and parsley, paprika and yogurt and almonds and honey and, well, a lot of things associated with Moroccan and North African cuisine just can't be beat (it all falls apart when I think of how often sweet and savory are used together because I don't mix my sweet and savory). The recipe below is like so many things I make - if you vary the spices, but keep the rest the same, you have another great dish. Change the spices to curry powder and it's my most basic Indian dinner, or change the spices to Italian, and the beans from garbanzo to white, and you have a great braise to serve with a big salad or sauteed greens. Hmm... you could even make the spices Mexican, and the beans black, and serve it with lime and japalpeno rice... So many possibilities.

Braised Moroccan Chicken Thighs
8 chicken thighs (with or without bones)
1 yellow onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup chicken stock
1 15 oz can of tomatoes (with liquid)
1 15 oz can of garbanzo beans (drained)
1 T paprika (smoked if possible)
2 t cumin
white pepper to taste
smidge of cinnamon
1 bay leaf
1 lemon (or 2 T red wine vinegar)
chopped mint and parsley
plain yogurt (preferably not lowfat)
  • Heat a few tablespoons of oil in a large, deep pan. Saute the onions until they just begin to brown, then add the garlic and saute until it just begins to brown.
  • Have your stock ready and your cans opened, then sprinkle the spices over the onions and toast the spices until the pan is dry (and starting to make you worry you'll burn it).
  • Add your chicken thighs (breasts will work too) and splash in a little stock so that things don't actually burn. Cook this all together for a few minutes to allow the spices to soak into the thighs. This was an accidental innovation! I used to always sear the thighs first and add them back in here with all the other ingredients, but something about sauteing them for just a bit with the spices and onions created my best batch ever.
  • Add the stock, garbanzos, and tomatoes and bring to a nice bubble (but not a crazy boil). It will be ready in about 30 minutes, but it's even better if you simmer for an hour adding just a smidge more stock if needed.
  • When you're about to serve it, add the lemon or vinegar and adjust the salt.
I like to serve this with couscous and the garnishes mentioned above. Follow the directions on the package (or from the bulk container, which is the cheapest way to get couscous), but add a splash of red wine vinegar and a pat of butter to the boiling water.

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