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Moroccan Chicken With Olives

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The genesis of this recipe was Moroccan Chicken Smothered In Olives from the New York Times.  The basic ideas of the recipe seemed sound, but the suggested execution lacking.  I did not brine my chicken.  Maybe it would have been better, but my version was moist and flavorful without the additional step.  I also did not just throw the ingredients into a casserole and braise it.  I took a more classic approach and seared my chicken and cooked down my onions and garlic.  I also started on the stove top, cooked in the oven and finished back on the stove top, as I often do.  

Many of the reviews of the original recipe complained about a bland sauce.  I can’t imagine how they achieved that result unless they opted not to reduce the sauce at the end and failed to adjust their seasoning.  I used only half of the spices from the original recipe since it just seemed like too much and I had great flavors.  I also did not blanch my olives as recommended which undoubtedly helped add flavor.  Why would one want to extract the briny taste of the olives?  I also added salt and pepper up front and at the end.  I seasoned my meat before I seared it and adjusted the seasoning when reducing the sauce. 

The original recipe was undoubtedly a little lower in calories and lower in sodium, but according to reviews lacked flavor.  Give me a few more calories and better taste any day.  I would gladly spend a few extra minutes in the gym than sacrifice flavor in my food.

I betrayed a basic principles here: try a recipe as written at least once and then adjust from there.  I often abandoned this rule, but this one begged for upfront revision.  A lack of seasoning and making sauce reduction optional just begged for substandard results.  

Ingredients:

  • 8 skinless, boneless chicken thighs
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 onions, peeled, halved and sliced
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoons ground turmeric
  • 1 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1/2 tablespoon Spanish sweet paprika
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
  • 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 11 ounces pitted green olives in brine, drained and halved
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Preparation:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Salt and pepper both sides of chicken pieces.
  3. In bottom of a large pan, heat oil over medium-high heat.  
  4. Add chicken pieces and brown on all sides.   
  5. Remove chicken to a plate.  
  6. Add onions and sauté until softened and translucent.  
  7. Add chicken back to pan.  
  8. Add chicken broth. Sprinkle with ginger, turmeric, cumin, paprika, and garlic. Place over high heat to bring to a boil.
  9. Cover and move to oven for 30 minutes, turning chicken once.
  10. Turn chicken again and add olives and lime juice to chicken, and cook uncovered for another 10 minutes.
  11. Remove chicken to a platter and keep warm.  
  12. Transfer pan to the stove-top and raise temperature to an aggressive simmer to reduce adding salt and pepper to taste. Thicken sauce to 1/4th or less in the volume.
  13. Pour sauce over chicken and serve hot.
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