Thursday, September 12, 2013

Moroccan Chicken Stew (My take)

Tunisian handpainted tangine from Williams-Sonoma

I have been experimenting with my slow-cooker and put a  little spin of my own on a recipe for Moroccan chicken stew. Normally of course, if you were going to be making this dish in a rather authentic manner, you would have to buy a tangine and place it buried in coals for the day to cook. Luckily the slow-cooker works just as well.

What you need for the recipe:

6 boneless and skinless chicken breasts (you can use bone in if you want)
oil (olive or canola)
1 cup apricots
1 cup raisins
1/2 cup pinenuts
1 large sweet onion (Vidalia)
1 cup carrots
1 cup fresh garlic cloves
1 cup chicken stock (or water)

1. Put the slow cooker on brown, add oil.
2. Place chicken breasts in slow cooker to brown. Season with cumin, salt, pepper. Sear the sides of the chicken breast.
3. Add cut up onion, carrots, garlic, apricots, raisins and pinenuts.
4. Add about one cup of chicken stock (or water).

Put slow-cooker on low for 6 hours. The original recipe I had said to cook the chicken for 8-10 hours. So I cooked it for 8 hours and the chicken was a little dry. I recommend only 6 hours if your chicken breasts are fairly thin and without bone. Unfortunately this is going to be experimental on your part. It may also simply depend on your slow-cooker. Much like an oven you need to get used to your appliance.

Also the amount of fruit is directly dependent upon your level of sweetness. I started with a cup of each. You can add and subtract as you like. Remember though, carrots do add sweetness as well as does a sweet onion.

As far as the sauce is concerned, the liquid will accumulate over the hours. By the time the stew is done there is a pool of lovely broth at the bottom. It makes for a tasty garnish. You can add butter and flour to the drained off liquid if you are looking to make a thicker gravy.

Also spicing is up to you. I enjoy cumin and find it very authentic when cooking Middle Eastern dishes. Moroccan food is also characterized by Cinnamon, allspice, turmeric and saffron. None of these spices my family likes, so I tend to avoid them even if they are part of a recipe.

Now, much of Moroccan food is also known for its use of lemons. You can add some lemon juice to the stew at the beginning or use a sliced up lemon. However,  if you want to be truly authentic and you can find them, preserved lemons add a rather interesting and tangy taste to the stew. I chose to do without either form of lemon, again, because of my family's taste.

I hope you enjoy this take on an old favorite.


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