Thursday, August 25, 2011

Moroccan Chicken with Whole Wheat Cous Cous

I thought long and hard about what I should have as my first recipe after my long hiatis. I needed it to be something easy, comforting, delicious and most importantly healthy.
My mother-in-law initially introduced a version of this dish to me. While it was delicious I still felt it needed some more flavors to really make it a star. This dish is truly a perfect explosion of flavor on the palette. It’s spicey, sweet, tangy and most importantly delicious. Pair it with a super easy whole grain cous-cous and you are on your way to a wonderful dish inspired by all the flavors of the Middle East.
As the cooler weather threatens to sneak up on us at any moment...I find myself going back to my plethora of recipes and reaching for things that are ooey gooey and warming. Naturally, those are the typical recipes that also add some unnecessary layers of fat to our warmth-hungry bodies. And so this is where my fight for the healthy and the comforting begins. I want to reach for my pasta pot and create a mind blowing concoction of pasta, pancetta, cream and chicken…but that is reserved for special occasions when the calories disappear for just one meal. For now, we need something that will warm our souls and feed our grumbling stomachs. For now, we remember that food is there to nourish us not solve our problems. For now we sit down at the table with our families, friends and loved ones and share a scrumptious meal that inspires stories and tales of other worlds, distant travels and happy endings…at least that’s what I hope for with every meal.

Moroccan Chicken

2 Pounds of Boneless, Skinless Chicken Thighs or Chicken Breast; Cut into Large Pieces
¾ Cup Dried Apricots, Roughly Sliced
¾ Cup Dried Prunes, Roughly Sliced
1 Spanish Onion, Diced
3 Tablespoons Balsamic Vinegar
2 Tablespoons Cilantro, Roughly Chopped
Juice of One Lemon
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
3 Garlic Cloves, Minced
1 One-Inch Piece of Ginger, Minced
1 Tablespoon Smokey Paprika
1 Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
1/8 Teaspoon Ground Nutmeg
1 Teaspoon Cumin
1.5 Tablespoons Turmeric *The turmeric gives this dish its distinct yellow color*
½ Teaspoon Sumac (optional)
½ Tablespoon Salt
1 Tsp Pepper
Pinch of Red Pepper Flakes

-Preheat oven to 450-degrees F. Spray down a casserole pan of choice.
-While the oven is preheating combine chicken thighs with turmeric, cumin, nutmeg, cinnamon, paprika, cumin, ginger, garlic, salt pepper, lemon juice, balsamic vinegar and cilantro. Toss in a bowl to combine and let stand for at least 20-30 minutes or even overnight.
-In a separate pan, combine onions, red pepper flakes with olive oil and sauté until golden; about 10 minutes.
-Add in dried fruit and mix to combine. Let cook for 10 minutes.
-Place chicken mixture and onion mixture into oiled casserole dish. Mix well to combine and distribute evenly.
-Cook uncovered for 15-20 minutes or until meat is tender and cooked through.

Whole Wheat Cous Cous

I always buys Trader Joes Cous Cous and just follow the package instructions.

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