It’s a Moroccan kind of week I guess, which is a bit ironic since I know very little about food from that part of the world. Don’t hold the name against me though—Google led me to believe that tomatoes, currants, garlic, almonds and the spices I used were indeed Moroccan-ish.
In any event, this dish is T-A-S-T-Y! And it goes perfectly with Moroccan Cauli-Rice. (I’m trying to use up my currants and sliced almonds, can you tell?) The chicken needs to braise for about 45 minutes, which gives you the right amount of time to whip up some cauli-rice and tidy up the kitchen before serving dinner. And as a busy mom, any dinner that finishes in the oven (or simmering on the stove top) therefore allowing me to clean up the kitchen prior to eating, gets another star in my book.
1 whole chicken, cut into sections (or buy one pre-butchered)
2-3 TBSP ghee
28oz can organic crushed tomatoes
2-3 cloves garlic, chopped (about 2 TBSP)
1.5 cups diced white or yellow onion
1/4 cup raw honey
1 large bay leaf (or two small ones)
1/4 cup dried organic currants
1/4 cup sliced almonds, plus additional for garnish
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp sea salt (use less for finer grain salts)
pinch red chili flakes (about 1/8 tsp)
Optional garnish: fresh mint, cilantro or flat-leaf parsley
If you have a whole chicken, butcher it into sections (breasts, legs, thighs) first. I like to grab one of the pre-cut chickens when I go to Trader Joe’s and save myself the step. You can find organic free-range birds there for a good price.
Break out your dutch oven and melt 2-3 tablespoons of ghee at medium high heat. Working in batches, sear the pieces of chicken to get a golden brown crust on the outside (don’t worry that the insides aren’t cooked, we just need to sear the skin at this point). Set the chicken aside once browned.
Reduce heat to medium. Quickly toss in the onion, garlic and sea salt and begin to sweat the onions. Warning — the dutch oven is going to be fairly hot still and whatever’s left in that pot will want to burn, so get your onions in quickly and start moving them around. The salt will help draw out the moisture fast enough to keep the whole thing from sticking and burning.
Once the onions are translucent and brown, add the crushed tomatoes, almonds, currants and remaining dry seasonings. Stir together. Add the honey next, but stream it in slowly, stirring (or ideally, whisking) the whole time. Globs of honey will find its way to the bottom of the pan and will burn during the braising process, so take the time to properly blend in the honey. Let the sauce simmer for ten minutes.
Add the chicken back into the simmering sauce and reduce the heat again to low. Submerge and/or coat the pieces in sauce as best you can, then cover the dutch oven and allow to braise on the stove top for 45-50 minutes. Check the internal temperature of a chicken breast and determine if an additional five to ten minutes is needed.
When serving, garnish with additional sliced almonds and some fresh mint, cilantro or flat-leaf parsley. It’s fantastic. Also, it’s a good idea to keep the extra sauce in a serving bowl at the table. It’s addicting and we ended up spooning more over our chicken as we ate. Yum!
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There are a couple tools that make preparing this recipe go smoothly: a Dutch oven, a good butcher’s knife (if you are using a whole chicken), and a whisk to make sure that honey really breaks up in the sauce so it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan.