Friday, 26 August 2011

Moroccan chicken

I had one of those times tonight when I knew what I wanted to cook but I hadn't quite got all of the ingredients. What transpired in the kitchen could only be described the Russian roulette of cooking - you don't know if it's going to be a hit or a miss, especially with fussy children to please.

I wanted to make Tana Ramsay's Moroccan chicken with couscous from Family Kitchen or Delia's Moroccan baked chicken with chickpeas and rice from her Winter book. What I needed was peppers, chicken and prunes or olives. What I had was a huge bag of carrots, three chicken breasts and the second half of a bag of wild rocket.

The carrots made me think of Nigella's The Rainbow Room's carrot and peanut salad which is my most favourite of all salads (it's in Forever Summer). So what I ended up making took inspiration from that and the other two recipes.

I sliced one each of red and white onions (recently harvested and currently drying in the polytunnel) and softened them in a pan with a glug of olive oil.

Meanwhile I sliced the chicken breasts and tossed them in Moroccan-style spicings - the end of a jar of Ras el hanout, a tablespoon of toasted and ground cumin seeds and a couple of grinds of black pepper. I added these to the pan with two chopped cloves of garlic (from the poytunnel ditto the onions) and then added three carrots - prepared carrot salad-style which is scrubbed and run through the chips cutter on my food processor (or you could cut them julienne style if you have the patience or are less lazy than I am).

When that lot was browned and softened I added a pint of chicken stock with a good pinch of saffron strands and a sliced lemon (both Delia's idea). Then I put on a lid and left it to simmer slowly until the chicken was cooked. Then I checked the seasoning and added about a tablespoon of honey to taste. It should be salty, sweet and sour.

I piled it into a dish on top of the couscous (prepared in the usual way) and sprinkled over a handful of salty peanuts (back to Nigella's salad idea again) and served the rocket on the side.

It was, for a dish created by a veritable committee of recipes, surprisingly delicious and got the thumbs up. I might in the future, when not catering for H9 who can spot a whiff of heat at a million paces, add a bit of sliced red chilli - I like the hot, sour, sweet, salty spicy combination. A final scattering of chopped fresh coriander wouldn't go amiss either.


  1. I've eaten, but you've made me hungry again. Sounds delicious. I’m sure I can smell it from here too.

  2. Lovely to catch up and that sounded so yummy, we had fresh mackeral fried in butter here.

  3. This sounds fab. I also like the fact that you are cooking as I so often do, with half the required ingredients and some important carrots which have to be shuffled in somewhere. This is real cooking and real skill, to make it all come together.

  4. It looks delicious...makes my tummy rumble!

  5. Very nice indeed. Until you got to the fresh coriander bit.


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