Monday, January 9, 2012

New Year's Resolution and Moroccan Chicken Stew

I got several cookbooks for Christmas this year. Paula Deen, Southern Living, Cook's Illustrated, Bisquick, and comfort food done healthy style. Along with these, I have about fifty other cookbooks that I either use a lot, or use very little- nothing really in between.  I figure there's no point in having these cookbooks unless I use them. With that said, here's my resolution, inspired by a post I saw on Serious Eats.  I am going to cook something from ALL of my cookbooks and blog about it.   Furthermore, I'm going to blog regularly- meaning at least twice a week, and hopefully more, time allowing.

So here's the start of my new year:  Moroccan Chicken Stew from the Cook's Illustrated cookbook, "Cover & Bake", a book of one dish recipes.

4.5 lbs bone in skin on chicken thighs
salt and pepper (to taste)
2 tsp vegetable oil (or olive oil)
2 medium onions, finely chopped
6 medium cloves of garlic, minced or pressed
1 cinnamon stick
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1 1/2 tsp hot paprika
8 oz dried apricots, cut in halves or quarters
3 cups chicken broth
1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
3 Tbsp all purpose flour
1/4 cup minced fresh cilantro leaves
2 Tbsp lemon juice
1 lemon, cut in wedges

Prep your spices: put your garlic, cinnamon, cardamom, and paprika in a small bowl (as a parenthetical note, I added about 1/8th tsp cayenne pepper because my paprika was not the hot variety- I'll add more next time; I also substituted 1/4 tsp ginger and 1/4 tsp allspice for the cardamom);

chop up the onions and put them in a larger bowl with 1/4 tsp salt.

Cut up the apricots.

Now that you have the time consuming preparations done, heat the oil in a 12 inch pan. Dry the chicken and salt and pepper it.  Put half in the pan, skin side down.

Cooking in hot fat!
Cook for about 6 minutes until the skin is golden.  Flip it and cook until the other side is also golden, 2 minutes or so. 
Look at that Golden Skin!
 Take those pieces out of the pan and remove/discard the skin. Put the chicken pieces in a crockpot.  Drain off all but 2 tsp of fat from the pan, brown the second half of the chicken, discard its skin and dump it in the crockpot, too.
Peeling back the skin
Drain the fat from the pan again, all but 2 tsp or so.  Heat it until its shimmery, and add the onions to the pan. Cook them about 4 minutes until they are soft and translucent, scraping the brown bits off the bottom of the pan. Pour the small bowl of aromatics into the pan with the onions, stir it around and heat it until you can smell it heating up- maybe 30-45 seconds.  Add the apricots and 2 1/2 cups of the chicken broth. Turn up the heat and bring the mixture to a boil. Pour the boiling mixture over the chicken in the crockpot, and cook on low for 3-4 hours.
All in the pot!
Stir in the chickpeas, and let it cook for one more hour.
Remove the chicken from the pot, place it on a plate, and tent some foil over it.
Add the flour to the other half cup of chicken broth and stir it up until it is dissolved.
Whenever you're thickening a soup with flour or cornstarch, dissolve the thickener in a little bit of liquid before adding it to the pot.
Stir the chicken broth/flour mixture into the pot with the rest of the juice, turn the pot on high, and let it simmer for 15 minutes.  Once the broth has thickened, put the chicken back in the pot.  Serve on its own, over noodles, rice, or potatoes, which is what I did.
Moroccan Chicken Stew served over mashed potatoes with sweet and sour green beans and garlic toast
Review:  This was a good dish.  As you can see in the ingredient list, there's supposed to be cilantro in and lemon wedges with the stew.  I forgot the lemon wedges, and didn't put the cilantro in because the hubs doesn't like cilantro. I think it needed both items- the stew definitely needed something with a bite.  When I make it again, I'll also increase the cayenne and caramelize the onions and the apricots before adding the spices.
I served the leftovers with spaetzle, but it wasn't as good as the mashed potatoes.

What's cooking in your kitchen?


  1. Looks yummy. I think I may try it WITH the lemon and cilantro, but MINUS the cinnamon, which should never be used with any kind of meat (in my humble opinion)! May make it with couscous...

  2. @ Joy- Thanks!
    @ Blayr- I hope you enjoy it! I will say, the cinnamon is really more for a depth of flavor, rather than a sweetness of flavor, because its simmered in the stew in stick form. I don't think you would notice it. But you would know better than me. Let me know how it turns out with the couscous!