Saturday, July 18, 2015

Chicken Casablanca

Moroccan Lemon Chicken

(Chicken Casablanca)

We are headed to exotic Morocco this week, with a dish that will take you to Casablanca.  It's Moroccan style lemon chicken, slow cooked in a delicious sauce and finished with baby artichoke hearts and green olives.  

Double yum!  I have to say, I think this is my new signature dish.  We had a friend over for dinner who works in recipe development and she asked for the recipe.  And she finished her plate.  Both good signs that you've got a winner, winner, chicken dinner!

This recipe is perfect for a busy summer supper.  The slow cooker isn't only for the fall and winter months. It's a great way not to heat up your house in the summer.  If you're busy, you can set it and - well - ALMOST forget it.    You'll see where I am going with the "almost" when you read the actual recipe. 

I like to serve this dish up with a cold curried green cauliflower salad.   I'll bring that recipe to you another time.  This chicken recipe can be served over Couscous or rice.  Or make a simple salad.  Even garlic smashers would be great if you aren't interested in keeping with an authentic theme. 

Nothing wrong with a little "fusion" meal. 

I didn't have time to preserve lemons in the traditional way.  That would take about three weeks and I'm not that forward thinking lately. 

So, I cheated.  I made quickly preserved lemons; if that doesn't sound like a contradiction, I've got your attention now.  I'm including the process that I used here to give the dish that rich flavor that only preserved lemons can impart. 

If you have them on hand you can use them.  Otherwise, follow my recipe. 

I know you're going to love this dish.   Your family will say, "Make it again, Sam," or George, or Sandy, or whatever your name is.  Yeah.

I suggest using Saigon Cinnamon if you can find it as it has a deeper flavor.  If you don't have access to the wine I used, you can substitute any sweet white wine that you like. 

Here we go:

Serves 4


For the Quick Preserved Lemons:

8 slices seeded lemon
1/4 teaspoon light olive oil
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt

For the chicken:

1 tablespoon Extra Virgin olive oil
2 large split chicken breast halves (one split breast for every two persons)
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/8 cup sweet white wine (such as Lakeridge Southern White)
1/8 cup reduced sodium chicken broth, plus two tablespoons for deglazing pie pan
1 tablespoon frozen salted butter
1 tablespoon freshly minced garlic
1 tablespoon bottled ginger
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 teaspoon Saigon Cinnamon
1 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar
1/2 teaspoon ground Turmeric, divided 
1/4 teaspoon Hungarian Paprika or regular paprika
1 tablespoon cornstarch mixed with 1/2 cup cold water
7 baby canned artichoke hearts (packed in water), halved
12 green Greek marinated olives, pitted

Other: coconut oil cooking spray (optional but recommended)


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Seed lemon slices and place in a skillet brushed with light olive oil.

Whoa!  A little head game there!

Cook over medium high heat until lightly charred, turning once. 

Transfer lemon slices to a ceramic pie plate coated with cooking spray.  Sprinkle evenly with the salt. 

Place in hot oven. TURN OVEN OFF.  Let the lemons sit in the hot oven for about ten minutes.  Remove lemons from pan and reserve.

Add oil to same pan.  Return to heat.  Add chicken breasts one a time, skin side down, to pan and brown.  Do not flip the chicken until the skin naturally releases  (about four minutes).  Brown about one minute on the bone side.

Transfer chicken breasts to the a slow cooker warmed to low (cooking spray optional). 

Deglaze the skillet with the lemon juice, sweet wine and chicken broth.  Scrape brown bits from the bottom of the skillet.  Add in the ice cold butter and the minced garlic.  Reduce about one minute over medium high heat.  Pour the sauce into the slow cooker over the chicken.

Create a paste out of the bottled ginger, sea salt, Saigon cinnamon and white balsamic vinegar by mashing it together with a form.  Brush equal parts on top of each chicken breast half. 

Top the chicken with the mock preserved lemons. 

Deglaze the pie pan with the rest of the chicken broth and add to slow cooker.  This will pull all of that good, lemony flavor from the pan.

Sprinkle with half of the ground turmeric and  all of the Hungarian Paprika.

Cook on low for five hours.

Add the slurry of cornstarch and water to slow cooker along with the artichoke hearts and the olives.

Cover and turn heat to high until the sauce begins to simmer, about 15-20 minutes. IMMEDIATELY turn the slow cooker to warm and let rest on warm for 1 - 2 hours.  This will allow the sauce to thicken up.

And as always, enjoy and I'll see you soon!

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