9.23.2010

COOK } Moroccan Chicken


Fall-off-the-bone chicken is paired with Moroccan spices, dates, olives and lemon.

This is one of my all-time favorite go-to recipes, adopted from my mom who has been making it for as long as I can remember and who probably got it (but can’t remember) from some popular 1980s cookbook.

For very little work, the flavor payoff is huge. A blend of spices that nod to Morocco coats the chicken, and the delicious chicken fat that develops while cooking marries so beautifully with the earthy sweetness from the dates, a salty kick from the olives and a little tang from the preserved lemon.

Even better, you can literally walk away while the chicken is cooking. I did some yard work last time I cooked this. Made me feel like some superhuman woman from one of those cliché frozen food commercials — except I was actually cooking my dinner. Yes, you can do it all when the recipe is this simple.

Moroccan Chicken

serves 2-4

4 whole chicken legs (thighs and drumsticks), skin on
3 garlic cloves, diced
1 1/2 tsp cumin
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus more for cooking
1 cup pitted whole dates
1 cup pitted green and black olives
1 preserved lemon, sliced

Combine all the spices, garlic, salt and pepper in a large bowl with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Stir to combine. Add the chicken legs and toss to coat well. Marinate for about 1 hour.

In a pan with a lid, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium high heat. Place the chicken legs in the pan, skin side down. Lower the pan to medium heat, cover completely and cook the chicken for 20 minutes. Turn the chicken over and add the dates, olives and preserved lemon. Cover and cook for another 20 minutes, checking a few times to make sure the pan doesn’t dry out. (If kept well covered, the fat and moisture from the chicken will keep the pan from drying out. Add a little water to the pan if it starts to get dry.)

Serve with cous cous and pan drippings.

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