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RCP: Quick Morroccan Chicken With Olives and Lemon

by Jenise » Wed Jan 24, 2018 4:37 pm

I've been avoiding carbs in order to capitalize on the weight loss that came with my recent illness, and when a NYTimes recipe for Morroccan Chicken floated across my Facebook feed yesterday I thought, "That's just what I want for dinner." Comforting but exotic. I had everything on hand except the chicken, and a quick trip to the store fixed that. I didn't follow their recipe, parts of which I thought were just daft. For instance two large onions for five chicken breasts was just plain overkill; and no way would I separately boil the olives in water for ten minutes to remove flavor. For Pete's sake, that just reduces olives to looks and texture for people who don't actually love olives. I did NOT pre-brine the chicken, and I used plain water instead of chicken broth in the braise--with all the spices, this dish is anything but plain. I chose purity over the invisible amperage of salt and sugar.

Done my way, the dish was done in about 30 minutes, and a tray of eggplant slices for a vegetable underlayer baked in the same amount of time. Low carb, low fat, big flavors. And too, I made a double batch. I'll re-season the leftovers with vinegar and cayenne to create a variation for serving over boiled potatoes or cauliflower rice later in the week.

10 boneless/skinless chicken thighs
1 large onion, peeled, halved and sliced
2 teaspoons ground turmeric
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons sweet paprika
5 coins or 1" ginger, minced
4 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves, divided
Water to barely cover, about two cups
A handful or two of castelveltrano olives
1 lemon, quartered

In a shallow wide pan large enough to hold the chicken thighs nestled in one layer, saute the sliced onions. Mix the three dried spices, sprinkle half over the onions while warm. Add the minced garlic and ginger. Separately brown the chicken thighs then layer over the onions. Sprinkle with remaining dry spices and half the cilantro. Squeeze lemon juice over the dish and tuck the spent quarters in between chicken pieces to contribute flavor during the quick braise. Add water to just barely cover chicken, toss olives over all.

Bring to a bubbling temperature and simmer for about 25 minutes. Stir in remaining cilantro and serve over rice or vegetables.
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov
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Re: RCP: Quick Morroccan Chicken With Olives and Lemon

by Jeff Grossman » Thu Jan 25, 2018 12:05 am

Sounds good, Jenise.

But, for my house, what can I do to sub for the turmeric (because I don't have any) and the cilantro (because Pumpkin and cilantro don't go together)?

The onion would be replaced by a fennel bulb. That one I know.
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Re: RCP: Quick Morroccan Chicken With Olives and Lemon

by Paul Winalski » Thu Jan 25, 2018 2:28 pm

Jeff,

The turmeric is mainly going to give the dish a yellow color. I suspect you could leave it out entirely (in which case it will be a more brownish shade than it's supposed to be), or could add a few drops of yellow food coloring. Regarding the cilantro, maybe try flat parsley, but add a pinch of ground coriander to the dry spices?

-Paul W.
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Re: RCP: Quick Morroccan Chicken With Olives and Lemon

by Paul Winalski » Thu Jan 25, 2018 2:29 pm

Jenise,

This dish sounds wonderful. Can't wait to try it.

-Paul W.
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Re: RCP: Quick Morroccan Chicken With Olives and Lemon

by Jenise » Thu Jan 25, 2018 5:02 pm

Paul Winalski wrote:Jeff,

The turmeric is mainly going to give the dish a yellow color. I suspect you could leave it out entirely (in which case it will be a more brownish shade than it's supposed to be), or could add a few drops of yellow food coloring. Regarding the cilantro, maybe try flat parsley, but add a pinch of ground coriander to the dry spices?

-Paul W.


Turmeric does have flavor though, it's also a helpful anti-inflammatory so something good to eat period. I'd just tell Jeff: buy some! As for cilantro, leave it out. Chopped parsley would give you some nice flecks color in the initial cook.
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Re: RCP: Quick Morroccan Chicken With Olives and Lemon

by Jeff Grossman » Thu Jan 25, 2018 9:29 pm

Thank you both!

I kinda like the idea of adding a bit of coriander, though it pushes the dish in the direction of a curry.
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Re: RCP: Quick Morroccan Chicken With Olives and Lemon

by Jenise » Thu Jan 25, 2018 10:33 pm

Yeah, I'm not sure it's needed. Really, the mix of paprika, cumin, turmeric, ginger and garlic is pretty perfect in a stand-alone kind of way. Cilantro is just a complication.
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Re: RCP: Quick Morroccan Chicken With Olives and Lemon

by Matilda L » Fri Jan 26, 2018 1:23 am

Thanks for the recipe Jenise. I think I'll break out my tagine and make a variation of this, going for a drier finish. Maybe I'll substitute chicken stock for the [reduced amount of] water. Also, the tagine will make for a longer cooking time, which can only be a good thing when using thigh fillets.

Turmeric? Love it. The colour, the aroma, the flavour - it's a favourite.

And Jeff, you're the Pumpkin Guy so I defer to you, but pumpkin and coriander do go together. I love the flavour combination :)
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Re: RCP: Quick Morroccan Chicken With Olives and Lemon

by Jenise » Fri Jan 26, 2018 3:33 pm

Matilda L wrote:And Jeff, you're the Pumpkin Guy so I defer to you, but pumpkin and coriander do go together. I love the flavour combination :)


Not when the "Pumpkin" is Jeff's husband. :)
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Re: RCP: Quick Morroccan Chicken With Olives and Lemon

by Bill Spohn » Sat Jan 27, 2018 4:38 pm

Thanks for that - right up my alley. I'd do it with bone in thighs as that seems to impart a bit more flavour, but I expect the difference is minor.

Saved, printed and in the queue of things to be tried.
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Re: RCP: Quick Morroccan Chicken With Olives and Lemon

by Jenise » Sat Jan 27, 2018 6:29 pm

Bill Spohn wrote:Thanks for that - right up my alley. I'd do it with bone in thighs as that seems to impart a bit more flavour, but I expect the difference is minor.

Saved, printed and in the queue of things to be tried.


I would have chosen bone-in as well, but that wasn't an option in 'organic' the day I was shopping.
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Re: RCP: Quick Morroccan Chicken With Olives and Lemon

by Bill Spohn » Sat Jan 27, 2018 6:43 pm

Jenise wrote:I would have chosen bone-in as well, but that wasn't an option in 'organic' the day I was shopping.


I'll make sure to shop in the 'inorganic' aisle! :mrgreen:
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Re: RCP: Quick Morroccan Chicken With Olives and Lemon

by Bill Spohn » Thu Feb 01, 2018 11:09 pm

OK - comments.

I used skinless boneless and would again - perfect for this dish.

The Castelvetrano olives are also perfect and worth looking for.

Do NOT (as I often do) increase the amount of spice - this is very well spiced if you use the recipe amounts.

Watch the water as it nears the end - you may need to add some to have enough sauce.

Serve over rice - perfect use for the dish.

I might consider adding a bit of chopped dried apricot or even raisins (sultanas) to this to see how they work. It might be worth trying shrimp, added later in the cooking, in place of chicken, to see how that plays.

No salt is called for, but nonetheless adjust with it at the end.

This recipe goes into the frequent use file.
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Re: RCP: Quick Morroccan Chicken With Olives and Lemon

by Jenise » Fri Feb 02, 2018 3:08 pm

Bill Spohn wrote:OK - comments.

I used skinless boneless and would again - perfect for this dish.

The Castelvetrano olives are also perfect and worth looking for.

Do NOT (as I often do) increase the amount of spice - this is very well spiced if you use the recipe amounts.

Watch the water as it nears the end - you may need to add some to have enough sauce.

Serve over rice - perfect use for the dish.

I might consider adding a bit of chopped dried apricot or even raisins (sultanas) to this to see how they work. It might be worth trying shrimp, added later in the cooking, in place of chicken, to see how that plays.

No salt is called for, but nonetheless adjust with it at the end.

This recipe goes into the frequent use file.



So glad you liked it! Re water--depends on how you cook. Coverage and cooking temp will cause more evaporation--or not. Yes rice would be perfect if you're not skipping carbs at present. And re salt--goes without saying. I'm not generally a salt-free cook but because of the olives (I probably used twice what anyone else would), I preferred to salt at the end only if needed. Btw, Bosa, you probably know, has the best olives--a whole liter jar of castelveltranos is like $7. I buy two at a time. :)
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Re: RCP: Quick Morroccan Chicken With Olives and Lemon

by Bill Spohn » Fri Feb 02, 2018 3:22 pm

Jenise wrote:
Btw, Bosa, you probably know, has the best olives--a whole liter jar of castelveltranos is like $7. I buy two at a time. :)


While I found them at my local supermarket, that is relatively rare. I keep Bosas in mind if I can't find them elsewhere. Going there tomorrow morning early (hate the crowds later in the day) to pick up some sausages and a jar of chestnuts so I can make my chestnut soup again for you some time. Have you tried their sausages?

On the carbs, unless you are still eating bread or a lot of fruit, the only problem with rice is limiting yourself to a quarter cup or so..... Had a Japanese friend that ate traditional food at home and was told that he had to knock off the carbs. He was stunned - said that left him....pretty much nothing. It was like someone had told him not to breathe any more.
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Re: RCP: Quick Morroccan Chicken With Olives and Lemon

by Jenise » Fri Feb 02, 2018 3:36 pm

A quarter cup? That's a punishingly small amount to me. I'd prefer none to having to impose such a draconian limit. Controlling my lust for carbs the hardest part of dieting. That's why I used roasted eggplant slices when I made this--eggplant is absorbent so picks up sauces really well, and the flavors work. The new dish I made out of the leftovers was a curry-like dish with a lot of stir-fried bell peppers and onions.
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Re: RCP: Quick Morroccan Chicken With Olives and Lemon

by Matilda L » Thu Mar 15, 2018 10:55 pm

Just back from travelling in Morocco, where I ate several different versions of this chicken with olives and lemon dish. In all cases, they used saffron rather than turmeric. A more subtle flavour. Also, there were varying amounts of cinnamon, cumin and coriander used. I particularly enjoyed one that was heavy on the cinnamon and lemon. This seems to be a common dish over there - or a common dish to serve to foreign travellers, anyway.
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Re: RCP: Quick Morroccan Chicken With Olives and Lemon

by Barb Downunder » Sun Mar 18, 2018 5:12 am

It was fortuitous this recipe popped up near the top. I had chicken thigh fillets and no ideas, also had most of the ingredients except for coriander and the olives (had to google them). Parsley and some kalamatas worked for me. A good dish. The leftover chicken I cut up some and added some sautéed red and green capsicum and tomato, flavours that would work with what was there. Almost instant dinner.
Thanks for the post Jenise.
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Re: RCP: Quick Morroccan Chicken With Olives and Lemon

by Jenise » Sun Mar 18, 2018 4:25 pm

Matilda L wrote:Just back from travelling in Morocco, where I ate several different versions of this chicken with olives and lemon dish. In all cases, they used saffron rather than turmeric. A more subtle flavour. Also, there were varying amounts of cinnamon, cumin and coriander used. I particularly enjoyed one that was heavy on the cinnamon and lemon. This seems to be a common dish over there - or a common dish to serve to foreign travellers, anyway.


Matilda, I'm intrigued by the "heavy on the cinnamon and lemon". The last sounds great, I went heavier on the lemon than this recipe called for myself, but cinnamon? Next question is, why the heck not? Most of us love the spice but rarely use it in savory preps. In fact, when I think of the suggestion, I go back to what in fact is also a Moroccan dish, that phyllo-like dough covered mound of eggs and lamb called a bastilla, I THINK.

I certainly approve of saffron over turmeric too. I think most Western recipe writers have a tendency to default to it because it's less expensive. Were saffron more commonplace, that wouldn't happen. Most kitchens likely don't keep it on hand but only buy it for special occasions.
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Re: RCP: Quick Morroccan Chicken With Olives and Lemon

by Rahsaan » Sun Mar 18, 2018 9:49 pm

Jenise wrote:
Matilda, I'm intrigued by the "heavy on the cinnamon and lemon". The last sounds great, I went heavier on the lemon than this recipe called for myself, but cinnamon? Next question is, why the heck not? Most of us love the spice but rarely use it in savory preps..


I love cinnamon but it can overpower a dish, especially when used in savory ways. (Extra cinnamon in cinnamon ice cream is just more intense flavor. Extra cinnamon in a savory dish can lead to weird results) I often add it to bean dishes, but need to be careful because it can throw things out of whack quickly. Perhaps the lemon is the counter-agent here.
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Re: RCP: Quick Morroccan Chicken With Olives and Lemon

by Bill Spohn » Sun Mar 18, 2018 9:54 pm

Cinnamon is a natural with lamb - I do a loin coated with cinnamon and other spices, wrapped in phyllo and roasted to rare (think you've tasted that, Jenise).

But everyone saying to watch it is right - there are some spices you can easily overdo and cinnamon (with protein) and allspice are two of them.
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Re: RCP: Quick Morroccan Chicken With Olives and Lemon

by Jenise » Mon Mar 19, 2018 3:23 pm

Bill, yes, I remember that dish--it's wonderful, and I agree. I forgot in answering Matilda that I often combine cinnamon and cumin as a rub for rack of lamb, then crust it with a combination of panko and dessicated unsweetened coconut. It's fantastic.
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Re: RCP: Quick Morroccan Chicken With Olives and Lemon

by Bill Buitenhuys » Wed Mar 21, 2018 12:45 am

We made this for dinner last night...and wow! Fantastic recipe. Subbed cerignola for castelvetrano but really want the brightness of the castelvetrano next time. I do like Bill's idea of some chopped apricot for next time as well. We used sliced, roasted zucchini as the base.
Warmed some pita with za'atar & oil as a dipper.
All paired quite well with 2011 Cowan Isa.
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Re: RCP: Quick Morroccan Chicken With Olives and Lemon

by Jenise » Wed Mar 21, 2018 1:06 pm

So many people complain about zucchini being bland, but sometimes its blandness is actually an asset and this would be one--great choice.

As for the olive type--anything will do, really. The castelveltranos are buttery and not (typically) vinegar brined. Depending on your POV, that's a plus--or not. As someone who adores anything pickled, it's no problem for me. The cerignolas you chose are pretty meaty, and would have a good presence too.
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov
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