Monday, November 16, 2009

Moroccan Roast Chicken

So, here is the Moroccan roasted chicken recipe, as promised. It comes from a book called Moroccan, a Culinary Journey of Discovery, by Ghillie Basan.

I am very happy I did not make this for the first time when I had company, as it took nearly twice as long to cook as the recipe said it would. Instead of going by time, insert a meat thermometer and take out the chicken when it says it has reached the correct internal temperature for poultry.

The recipe says it will feed 4 to 6. I suppose if you had appetizers and a salad and maybe something else you should stretch it to six servings, but I generally don’t recommend trying to serve more than four people with one chicken. If you have hearty eaters, it probably won’t even go that far. However, don’t be afraid of cooking this for one or two people. I made it for just myself. I ate what I wanted the night I made it, then took the meat off the bone and mixed it in with the leftover couscous. A minute in the microwave the next night and dinner was served – perfect! This chicken remained moist and tender even after microwaving.

My modifications:

I did not use an organic chicken. While I would have liked to, my grocery store was selling the organic chickens for about $18 each. I picked up a decent sized Purdue chicken for less than $4. I like to buy organic, but that kind of price difference just isn’t in my budget.

I used a whole orange, cut into thick slices and laid them on top of the chicken. I used the end piece like the recipe said to, but didn’t see the point in not using the rest of it. I guess if you have something else to do with the orange, go for it.

I had sliced almonds in the house, so I used those. The recipe didn’t specify, but showed a picture of whole almonds, so I figured that’s what they wanted. It was fine with the sliced. I wouldn’t use slivered, though. I think they would get lost in the dish. Also, I thought about toasting the almonds, which I think vastly improves nuts in general. Next time I make this couscous, I will do that.

And I didn’t serve it with a green salad, even though it probably would have been perfect, because I was lazy and only cooking for me.

Moroccan roast chicken stuffed with couscous
(Djaj m’ammar bil kesksou)

2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 tsp dried oregano or thyme
1 -2 tsp paprika
2 tbsp butter, softened
1 organic chicken
sliced off end of one orange
2/3 cup chicken stock
green salad, for serving

Couscous stuffing
1 cup couscous
1 cup warm water, with ½ tsp salt dissolved
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 tbsp honey
2 tbsp raisins (golden preferred)
¾ cup dried apricots, thickly sliced
2 – 3 tbsp blanched roasted almonds

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. First make the stuffing. Tip the couscous into a bowl and gradually pour in the water, stirring so that it is evenly absorbed. Cover and set the couscous aside to absorb the water. This should take about 10 minutes.

Drizzle the olive oil over the couscous and mix well, getting rid of any lumps. Toss in the remaining stuffing ingredients.

In a small bowl, beat the garlic, oregano and paprika into the butter, then smear all over the chicken, inside and out. Put the chicken in a tagine or ovenproof dish and fill the cavity with as much of the couscous as you can (any leftover couscous can be heated through in the oven before serving and fluffed up with a little extra oil or butter). Seal the cavity with a slice of orange, pour the stock into the dish, and roast in the oven, basting from time to time, for 1 to 1.5 hours, depending on the exact size of the chicken, or until tender and the juices run clear when a skewer is inserted into the thickest part of the meat.

Let the chicken rest for 10 minutes before carving or cutting into pieces. Strain the cooking juices into a pitcher to pour over the chicken. Serve the chicken with any leftover couscous and a green salad.

~Happy Cooking!

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