I love the rich and complex flavors that accompany Mediterranean food. The combination of herbs and spices commonly used in this part of the world never cease to surprise me; sometimes it is the most unlikely flavor combinations that are the most palette pleasing. Moroccan food is especially flavorful but it is these complex flavors that can make a dish seem especially complex and time consuming. When we were living in the Washington DC area I could fulfill my food cravings by choosing from a variety of good Moroccan restaurants. Here in Albania I satisfy my hunger by making the food myself.
This dish is inspired by Hassan M’Souli’s Moroccan Modern. I’ve pieced together a variety of recipes to create a recipe that fulfills my desire for Moroccan food and uses ingredients I have in my pantry (while providing me with the opportunity to use my new tagine). I’m not going to kid you; this recipe is difficult but it is time consuming. But plan ahead and spend a lazy weekend day in the kitchen,. I promise your efforts will be well worth it.
CHICKEN TAGINE w/ APRICOT-POPPY SEED SAUCE
1/2 tablespoon dried crushed chili
1/2 tablespoon sweet paprika
1/2 tablespoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon fresh ginger, minced
1/4 teaspoon saffron threads
1 onion, diced
1 bay leaf, crushed
4 garlic cloves, crushed
3 tablespoons parsley, chopped
1 preserved lemon, sliced thinly
1/4 olive oil
Juice of 1/2 lemon
- Combine all of the ingredients in a small bowl. Allow to sit for at least 1/2 hour before using.
The charmoula marinade may be stored covered in the refrigerator for up to 7 days.
Yields: 1 1/2 cups
Chicken w/Apricot- Poppy Seed Sauce
4 chicken leg quarters
1 1/2 cups Charmoula Marinade
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup water
2 cinnamon sticks
4 whole cloves
1/4 cup poppy seeds
7 tablespoons butter
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
Pinch saffron threads
1 pound dried apricots
- Place the chick in a large casserole dish and coat with the Charmoula marinade. Use your hands to coat all sides of the chicken pieces. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to overnight.
- Heat the olive oil in a large skillet set over medium-high heat. When the oil is shimmering, add the chicken and cook for 3-4 minutes or until the chicken is browned. Turn and cook an additional 3-4 minutes. Remove the chicken from the pan and place in the bottom of a tagine or oven-proof dutch oven.
- Add the water, cinnamon sticks and cloves to the skillet and bring to a boil.
- In a small skillet, dry toast the poppy seeds for about 30 seconds to toast them lightly. Add to the water mixture.
- Reduce the heat in the skillet to medium and add the butter, sugar, ground cinnamon, and saffron threads. Stir to combine.
- When the butter has melted add in the apricots and stir to coat.
- Pour the entire mixture over the chicken in the tagine.
- Cover the tagine and place on the lowest rack in a cold oven.
- Turn the oven on to 325 degrees and roast until the chicken is cooked through, 30-45 minutes.
Serve over couscous or risotto.