Monday, March 16, 2009

Roast Chicken with Preserved Lemon Sauce (slowcooker)

This recipe is adapted from Authentic Recipes From Morocco; 60 simple and delicious recipes from the land of the tagine, by Fatema Hal. The recipes really are deceptively simple, but the flavors of unusual spices paired with high-quality ingredients are mouth-wateringly delicious. This dish would have been okay with a 'natural' or organic chicken, but free-range chickens really do have much better flavor.

The long cooking times for many Moroccan main dishes are great for adapting to slowcookers, which takes longer than the recipes but gets the food put away for a couple hours to attend to salads and side dishes, as well as friendly conversation. This paired extremely well with Pat's Berber Kale, Tzatziki, Parsnip Hommous and some Nigella-scented Moroccan Rolls.

Roast Chicken with Preserved Lemon Sauce

serves 6
preparation time: 20-30 minutes
cooking time: 2 hours

2 cups hot water or chicken broth
several saffron threads
1 free-range chicken, cleaned and dried*
2 heaping tsp whole nigella seeds - one tsp crushed
6 Tbl olive oil
2 onions, peeled and thinly sliced
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp salt
freshly ground black pepper
1 bunch cilantro, coarsely chopped
1 large preserved Meyer lemon, quartered**

  1. In a bowl, add the saffron to the hot water or broth. Set aside.
  2. Rub the chicken with 1 tsp of crushed nigella seeds.
  3. Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven over high heat.
  4. Add the onions, ginger, salt, pepper and chicken.
  5. Brown the chicken on all sides, about 5 minutes per side.
  6. Remove the chicken to the insert of a slowcooker, breast-side up.
  7. Add the saffron, cilantro, whole nigella seeds, and preserved lemon to the onion and oil mixture. Stir until just heated.
  8. Pour onion mixture over chicken in slowcooker.
  9. Cover and set on HIGH for 2 hours.
  10. To serve, place the chicken on a warmed platter. Skim off the top layer of oil and reserve for a dipping oil (heaven in a dish, really). Pour remaining sauce over the chicken and dig in.
*The drier the skin, the better the chicken will brown.
**The preserved lemons are Meyer lemons with a Safi spicing recommended by Paula Wolfert - ours are nearly a year old and have a great perfume with a lot of sour, bitter and salty flavors.

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