MOROCCAN braised chicken with APRICOTS // ORANGE ZEST couscous
Each week I revisit my list of travel-inspired dishes I want to recreate to post on the blog with some witty/inspired story behind them. It includes Basque salted cod pintxos, Turkish simit, Peruvian lomo saltado, and French pork rillettes smeared across a tartine and topped with little gherkins, to name a few. The beautiful images of food are paired with even prettier pictures I dig off of my external hard drive, exporting all the readers to a different place and time (like 2009, or something) where life is always simple and food is always good.
And then I just make another Moroccan dish instead.
While I actually have been to Morocco (truly one of my favorite places and I break a little inside thinking I might never see it again), I never had a dish like this when I was there. But, instead of this being a dish tied to rosy memories of exotic locations, it's tied to one of those memories which triggers a visceral nose-scrunching embarrassment - the surprise party for my 30th birthday that I handled poorly, to say the least. While the birthday girl was not very gracious, the food was delicious and I'm glad I walked away with this recipe to make 6+ months later.
I guess Moroccan is a frequent go-to cuisine for me because it combines the hearty warmth of dishes like a Mexican posole or Thai noodle with the flavor profile of the Middle East. In general, anything that combines braising and warming spices is a win for me. In many ways this dish is perfect for fall in that it combines braised, tender meat with citrus and spices you might find in Western seasonal meals. It's also a quicker, less spice-intensive version of a North African tagine, and probably would be fantastic with the addition of Moroccan preserved lemons. If you've just been looking to take your side dish game up a notch, the orange zest couscous is a good one to add to your repertoire.
- 2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken thighs (trimmed)
- 1 tbsp. vegetable oil
- salt and pepper for seasoning
- 1 large onion, sliced
- 1 zucchini, diced
- 1 tbsp. freshly grated ginger
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 cinnamon stick (2-3")
- 1 tsp. ground cumin
- 1 tsp. paprika
- 3 cups low-sodium chicken stock
- 1/2 cup sliced green olives
- 1/2 cup dried apricots, thinly sliced
- 1 tsp. fresh lemon juice
- 2 tbsp. chopped cilantro
- Couscous Ingredients:
- 1.5 cups Middle Eastern or North African couscous
- 1.5-2 cups water (depending on couscous)
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1/4 cup thinly sliced scallions
- zest of 1 orange
- 1 tbsp. chopped cilantro
- 1 tbsp. chopped mint
- 1 tsp. fresh lemon juice
- 1 tsp. olive oil