Moroccan Chicken anyone?

I've had this recipe in my repertoire for years, it has evolved over time but is one of those tried and tested recipes that whenever I am lacking inspiration or time I go to. This recipe can be turned into a quick dinner, if you use chicken breast, 40 minutes, seriously) or lazy dinner in a slow cooker. 

Moroccan Chicken (*adapted from epicurious); 4 servings

  • 1 Lemon or preserved lemon
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large onion, halved, thinly sliced (ciseler)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced finely
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 1 tablespoon turmeric 
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 cups low-salt chicken broth
  • 4 pieces of chicken, thighs and legs or breasts
  • 1/2 cup green olives
  • salt and pepper

1. In a mortar and pestle or food processor, combine garlic, spices and 1 tbsp of olive oil, add 1 teaspoon of both salt and freshly ground pepper. Combine until it forms a paste. Slather on chicken making sure the chicken is evenly seasoned. Marinate for as long as possible, ideally overnight but at least 20 minutes.

2.  Heat a dutch oven or a large frying pan with olive oil, sear the chicken well on both sides   and then set aside. 

3. In the same pan over medium heat, saute the onions until slightly softened, but not fully cooked. Add the chicken back to the pan and add the chicken broth until the chicken is halfway covered. Add the green olives and lemon and then simmer on low-medium heat until chicken is fully cooked (this will be faster for the chicken breast, about 20 minutes and longer for the legs about 30 minutes). 

4. When chicken is fully cooked, remove and discard lemon, strain the sauce and reduce in a saucepan, until doubled. Serve the chicken with couscous and some sauce drizzled over! 

Now, if you have a bit more time, I would suggest you try making this same recipe but braising the meat for longer, if you do that, you get this great Moroccan Pulled Chicken - with the exact same ingredients, but you have to use chicken legs, otherwise it won't work. Do steps 1 - 3, but ignore step 4 above. 

4. Simmer the chicken on low heat, cover with a lid or aluminum foil to lock in the moisture. After 30 minutes, remove the lemon (if you leave it in the whole time it makes the stew a bit bitter). Check and make sure there is enough liquid, you want it to come up about halfway. Keep braising the chicken until you can pull the meat away with a fork. This should take about 1 hr in a pan/dutch over or 2 1/2 hrs if you use a slow cooker. 

5. Remove the chicken with tong and place in a large bowl. Strain the sauce and reduce until doubled. Meanwhile, using your finger roughly pull the meat off the bone. You want large chunks because when you add it back to the sauce and heat it up it will continue to shred. Discard the bones and skin. 

6. Add the shredded meat and olives back to the sauce. Heat through and serve with couscous or in some pita bread! 

Couscous Recipe

Basic Couscous Recipe
1 cup couscous 
1 1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons Olive Oil
Salt and pepper 

 Optional Add-in
1/4 cup crushed pistachios
1/4 cup of pomegranate seeds
1/4 cup of diced cucumber
1/4 cup of dried unsweetened cranberries
1/4 cup sultanas (Note - soak in earl grey tea for a few minutes, it helps to rehydrate them and wash off some of the excess sugar)

1. In a kettle or pot, bring water to a boil. 
2. In a medium mixing bowl, add dry couscous, olive oil and salt and pepper. 
3. Pour boiling hot water over couscous and cover with cling film/plastic wrap. Let stand for 2 minutes and then fluff with a fork. Add in any of the optional add-ins and then serve. 

Post Food Extravaganza...detox

I've been away from London on a food tour of Montreal, New York and Toronto, to do some food research and get some new culinary inspiration (yes, yes, it's a tough life). I can honestly say that after a month of eating like it could be my last meal, my body is officially starting to rebel against me. The first omen was when I walked away from a street food truck in Toronto offering free poutine tasting....clearly if my stomach could not be enticed by free poutine, something was wrong. So I vowed once I returned to London, that I would do a little detox and eat slightly healthier, but still delicious food. Also, I've been reading up on vegetarian food and thought this would be a great chance to out some vegetarian recipes! 

Day One of Detox

After a trip to the East Street Market, picked up some lovely fresh herbs and veggies and decided to do a Morrocan Style Nicoise Salad. 

1 Avocado
2 Tomatoes (or sun dried tomatoes)
2 Eggs
1 Green Onion
1 Pomegranate
Handful of French Beans or Green Beans
1 Bag of your fav leafy salad greens
1/2 jar of Morrocan Black Olives Za'atar (Middle Eastern Spice Mix of salt, sumac, sesame seeds and spices) 
Some Mint 
Some Cilantro

1 Lemon1 Tbsp Dijon Mustard3-4 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 clove of garlic 

*FYI - if you don't want to make your own dressing, you can omit the lemon, dijon and olive oil bit and just use a good quality olive oil dressing, but making dressing is super easy. In fact the BF can even make it, that's all I'm saying*

Now, the key to cooking is to be organized. The salad from start to finish took me about 20 minutes and that includes me deciding to roast my tomatoes in the oven to be fancy (if case you are feeling adventurous - cut tomatoes, slather in olive oil, salt, pepper, fresh thyme, garlic and oregano and bake at 350°F for about 20 minutes. 

1. In a small pot, add two eggs and cover with water. Cook on high heat. I like my eggs runny, so I bring the water to a boil, then turn down to a simmer for 3-4 minutes. At the same time put a small pot of salted water to blanch your green beans. 

2. Ah..Pomegranates, they are delicious but a bit tricky to get out. But a fellow chef taught me this trick to prevent the seeds from flying everywhere - cut it in half and submerge in water, in a large bowl. Then you can use your fingers or a spoon to de-seed them. 

3. Blanch the green beans, cook for a minute or until desired (I like my green beans al dente) and then drain and rinse in cold water. 

4. Cut avocado ,tomato and green onion as desired, I just diced the avocado and julienned the green onion. Chiffonade (fancy kitchen speak for cut up finely) the mint and cilantro.

5. Prepare dressing. Mince garlic clove, put into a small container with a lid. Add mustard, olive oil and 1/4 of the lemon squeezed (hold the seeds). Shake with vigor until emulsified. Yup easy, right. 

6. Assemble salad and eat. 

Conclusion - I love vegetarian food when it is fresh and flavourful and not trying to be meat.