Moroccan-style Roasted Chicken

I’ll admit I haven’t eaten a lot of ‘real’ Moroccan food, but I have eaten and cooked recipes that touted Moroccan flavors and spices.  I’ve loved those dishes and the combination of spices that is ‘moroccan’ in my mind. So I’m excited to try some more traditional recipes through September, and see how they match up with my preconceived notions of Moroccan cuisine.

As a first attempt, I tried a roast chicken stuffed with spiced couscous and dried fruits. The chicken was rubbed with a butter flavored with crushed garlic, oregano, and paprika. But the outer treatment of the chicken is not the main event here, the stuffing is what makes this dish sing.

Couscous Stuffing:
1 1/4 c. couscous
1 c. boiling water
1/2 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
3/4 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. ground coriander
1 Tbsp. honey
2 Tbsp. golden raisins
4 oz. dried apricots, sliced
4 oz. Turkish dates, sliced
3 Tbsp. slivered or sliced almonds

Stir the couscous with salt and boiling water. Cover and let it rest for 10 minutes to absorb liquid. Fluff with a fork, then mix in the olive oil and work with your hands to remove any lumps. Mix in all other ingredients.

Note: Couscous is often described as a ‘grain’, but it’s not really. It’s basically a type of pasta made with semolina and water.

Here’s what the chicken looked like when I put it in the oven – it was rubbed with the flavored butter, stuffed with the couscous stuffing (above), and then capped off with the end of an orange – which is supposed to help hold the stuffing inside. The recipe said to squeeze the rest of the orange juice over top (pulp came out of my orange, so I left it there too!). Then you pour a little chicken stock in the bottom and roast the chicken uncovered at 350 until it is cooked through, about 1.5 hours in my case. Baste the chicken regularly with the liquid from the bottom of the pan.

Here’s what it looked like when it was finished. Mine did end up to be a little dry, I’m not sure if it should have been covered during the first part of roasting, or if I just overcooked it a bit in general. But the stuffing was delicious – very fruity and almost like dessert rather than a main dish! There was leftover stuffing that didn’t fit inside the chicken, so I just mixed it all together at the end.

Adapted from: Flavors of Morocco, by Ghillie Basan

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