Sunday, March 13, 2011

Moroccan Chicken with Raisins and Toasted Almonds

This dish was inspired by this Joanne Weir recipe. I served this over some whole-wheat couscous, with this Roasted Carrot Puree as a side. The raisins add a really subtle sweetness to the sauce, but you could also substitute dried apricots, dates, pears, currents or whatever you'd like.

Total time: about an hour and 15 min.
Makes 4 servings

4 chicken bone-in, skin-on thighs
kosher salt
1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 large red onion, peeled and cut into quarters
2 cinnamon sticks, about 3 inches a piece
1 ½ tsps ground ginger
1 tsp crushed black peppercorns
1 tsp cumin seeds
½ tsp helba (a.k.a ground fenugreek—can be found at Indian groceries)
¼ tsp sweet Hungarian paprika
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1 bay leaf
3 garlic cloves, smashed
2 C low-sodium chicken broth
1 C water
1 lemon, cut in half
½ C golden raisins
¼ C slivered almonds, toasted

Couscous or orzo, as base (optional)
Roasted Carrot Puree, as side dish

Pat the chicken thighs with paper towels and sprinkle with a bit of kosher salt. Heat the olive oil in large pot over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and brown on both sides, about 8 minutes. Remove the chicken from the pan and set aside.

Reduce the heat to medium and add the onions to the pot, cooking and stirring occasionally until the onions have browned slightly. Add the cinnamon sticks, ginger, crushed peppercorns, cumin seeds, helba, paprika, cayenne, bay leaf, and smashed garlic. Stir the spices around until fragrant, about 1 minute. Increase the heat to high, add the broth, water and the juice from half of the lemon. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer until onions have softened, about 8 minutes.

Return the chicken thighs to the pan, placing them on top of the onions. Bring the liquid back to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until the chicken is cooked through, about 20 minutes. While the chicken is cooking, make the couscous or orzo, if serving.

Remove the chicken to a clean platter and loosely tent with foil. Using a large fine-mesh strainer, strain the juices in a large bowl or measuring cup. Discard the cinnamon sticks and bay leaf, then cover the onions-garlic mixture to keep warm while finishing the sauce. Return the strained juices back to the pot, add the raisins and remaining juice from the lemon, and boil over high heat until the sauce has thickened.

To serve, plate a helping roasted carrot puree, and a helping of couscous or orzo (if using). Top the cousous/pasta with the onion-garlic mixture, then top with the chicken. Drizzle with the sauce and enjoy!

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