Recipe: Moroccan Spiced Chicken

Original recipe from Georgeanne Brennan’s The Mediterranean Herb Cookbook

In Moroccan cooking, cilantro and parsley are commonly used herbs, often in quantity, along with spices such as cumin, saffron and cinnamon.

In this recipe the chicken is simmered whole in a sauce laden with the herbs and spices and then the sauce is reduced and poured over the tender meat.

Serves 4 or 5

4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1/2 onions, sliced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 chicken
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
4 cups water
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon saffron threads
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cinnamon stick
1 large bunch fresh cilantro, tied, plus sprigs for garnish
1 large bunch fresh flat-leaf parsley, tied

 1. In a large pot, melt the butter over medium-high heat. When it foams, add the onions and the garlic and sauté until the onion is translucent, 2 to 3 minutes.

2. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside. Add the whole chicken to the pot, breast down.

3. Cook just until the skin turns lightly golden, 2 to 3 minutes. Turn the chicken onto its back and then onto each side, cooking until lightly golden with each turn. Remove to a platter and set aside.

4. Reduce the heat to medium, sprinkle in the ginger and cumin, and stir, letting the spices brown for a minute or two. Gradually add the water to the pot, stirring to scrape up any its clinging to the bottom.

5. Stir in the pepper, saffron, salt, and cinnamon, then add the bunches of cilantro and parsley and the sautéed onions and garlic and their collected juices.

6. Return the chicken to the pot, breast side up. Cover, reduce the heat to medium-low, and cook, basting the chicken with the juices several times during cooking, until the chicken is tender and the juices no longer run pink when a knife is inserted at the base of the thigh, 45 to 50 minutes.

7. Remove the chicken to a platter and cover loosely with aluminum foil to keep warm. Scoop out the cilantro and parsley bunches and discard. Increase the heat to medium-high and cook to reduce the cooking liquid to about 2 cups.

8. To serve, carve the chicken into serving pieces and arrange them on a platter. Pour a little of the hot reduced liquid over them, and serve the remaining in a bowl alongside. Garnish with cilantro sprigs.

9. Serve with couscous or rice and a simple green salad.