We have recently been asked to prepare a menu for a wedding. The couple are looking for a rustic style buffet with Mediterranean inspirations. Having agreed on a selection of tapas for appetizers we have moved on to trialling various options for main courses. We are planning on serving French and Italian stews with selection of crusty breads, but we wanted to add something slightly more exotic to the mix. I’ve been tempted for a while to try a Moroccan inspired chicken recipe I’ve seen in the BBC Good Food Magazine some time ago and this seemed like the perfect occasion.
There was something about the combination of spices, fruit and vegetables in this recipe that instantly made me think that this will be a super yummy dish. And it is! So aromatic and full of flavour. We’ve done a few small amendments to the recipe and replaced the chicken breasts with chicken thighs (on the bone and with skin on) to make it more presentable. Delicious!
Moroccan Chicken with Dried Fruit, Mint and Pomegranate
- 6 chicken thighs or combination of thighs and drumsticks or whole legs
- olive oil
- 2 onions or 5 shallots, half roughly chopped, half sliced
- 100g tomatoes
- 100g ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
- 3 garlic cloves
- 1 tsp turmeric
- 1 tbsp ground cumin
- 1 tbsp coriander
- 1 tbsp cinnamon
- 1 large butternut squash, peeled, deseeded and cubed
- 600ml chicken stock
- 2 tbsp brown sugar
- 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
- 100g dried cherries
- 150g dried apricots
- Salt and pepper
For the garnish
- 1 small red onion, finely chopped
- zest 1 lemon
- handful mint leaves
- half of a pomegranate
- Rub the chicken with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a casserole pan or a roasting pan on a medium to high heat, add the chicken and brown all over. Remove it from the pan and store aside. Add the sliced onions to the pan and fry until they are soft and translucent. Add the spices into the pan for the last minute of frying. In a food processor whizz together the chopped onions, tomatoes, ginger and garlic into a paste (start with the onions, ginger and garlic and add the tomatoes once the rest has been whizzed). Add the paste into the pan with the onions and fry for few more minutes until soft.
- Return the chicken to the dish and add butternut squash, stock, sugar and vinegar. Bring to a simmer, cover and cook for roughly 40 mins. After that time remove a piece of chicken and check if it is cooked through. If undercooked return to the pan and cook for a bit longer. Repeat this test until chicken in cooked through and butternut squash is soft. Remove the chicken onto a plate and cover with foil. Add the cherries and apricots to the sauce, slightly increase the heat and continue cooking until the sauce thickens ( another 5- 10 minutes). Season the sauce with salt and pepper and return the chicken back into the pan or, if serving on a platter, poor the sauce into a platter and arrange chicken on top.
- Scatter the dish with lemon zest, mint leaves (choose the small leaves or shred the bigger) and pomegranate seeds. The easiest way to add the pomegranate is by cutting the fruit in half, overturning over the dish and bashing the back of the fruit with wooden spoon to release the seeds.
This dish is even better when reheated the next day once the vegetables and the chicken infuse with the flavours. Goes lovely with couscous, but also with some fresh crusty bread or flatbreads. Delicious!