Moroccan Style Apricot chicken

This is one of those dishes I’m inordinately proud of. I grew up on basic chicken, you know the kind, some salt, paprika, and pepper an onion or two for good measure. The first time I spent Shabbat with a friend whose parents had immigrated to America from Morocco and I tasted the amazing combination of heady spices, savory vegetables, sweet dried fruit, and the hint of acid, I was besotted. I worked for years trying to capture that perfect combination in my own kitchen. And this chicken recipe is the result.

I won’t lie, the browning of two chickens is work, and setting up so many ingredients is time-consuming. Two thoughts on this, the first, feel free to halve the recipe, and the second, this is one of those dishes that benefits from being prepared ahead of time, rather than making it as you are cooking a multitude of other things, cook it the day before you plan on serving it and perhaps it won’t feel like too much work. Yet all of that said, it is worth it, this is one of those dishes that guests to our home request, it is that good!.

  • 2 ½ teaspoons sweet paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 8 medium cloves garlic, minced or pressed through garlic press (about 5 teaspoons)
  • 2 whole chickens, each cut into 8 pieces and trimmed of excess fat
  • Salt and ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 large onions, halved and cut into 1/4-inch slices (about 3 cups)
  • 830ml (3 ½ cups) chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 3 medium carrot, peeled and cut crosswise into thin ‘coins’
  • 285g (1 ½ cups) dried apricots, halved
  • 2 x 400g (14 oz) tin chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, from 1 to 2 lemons
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh coriander leaves
  • 1. Season both sides of chicken pieces with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a large heavy-bottomed pot oven over medium-high heat until very hot. Brown chicken pieces, skin side down in a single layer until deep golden, about 5 minutes; using tongs, turn chicken pieces and brown on the second side, about 4 minutes more, you will need to be patient and do this in batches. Remove the chicken to a side plate.

    2. Check the amount of fat at the bottom of the pot, you should have 2 tablespoons worth, if you have too much discard some of it, if too little add some more olive oil. Add onions to pot and cook, stirring occasionally, until onions soften, about 10 minutes Add minced garlic and cook, stirring, about 30 seconds. Add spices and cook, stirring constantly, until darkened and very fragrant, 45 seconds to 1 minute. Stir in broth and honey, scraping the bottom of the pot with a wooden spoon to loosen browned bits.

    3. Add thighs and drumsticks, reduce heat to medium. Add carrots, apricots, and breast pieces (with any accumulated juices) to the pot, arranging breast pieces in a single layer on top of carrots.

    4. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer until chicken is cooked through about 30 minutes (either cut through one to check that all pink is gone or use a thermometer).

    5. Add chickpeas to pot; increase heat to medium-high and simmer until liquid has thickened slightly. You can make the whole dish up to this point the day before you serve it, in fact, it tastes even better when reheated.

    6. Just before serving, (reheat chicken if it has been made in advance) add coriander and lemon juice; stir to combine and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.

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