chicken of dreams: if you make it…

This is a special chicken, and it goes to show that finding a killer new recipe is as easy as having a bit of ingredient inspiration and a little Googling patience. I stumbled across this concoction (from Diana Henry) while looking for a Moroccan chicken recipe with saffron, and it features the very best that tomatoes, saffron, honey, and orange flower water have to offer. The honey + tomato + garlic + onion combination in particular lends a bit of sweet Virginia barbeque flavor to an otherwise fragrant and almost floral dish. This is a chicken you make for friends. If you don’t have friends, this chicken will help you make some.

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Moroccan Chicken with Saffron Honey
adapted from Diana Henry’s recipe as featured on the Good Food Channel

You will need:

3-4 T olive oil
A chicken, cut into 4-6 pieces
1 onion, sliced
6 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp ground ginger
1 inch of fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
6 tomatoes, roughly chopped
1 cup chicken stock
Several pinches of saffron
5 spoonfuls of honey
Splash of orange flower water
A handful of almonds, chopped and lightly toasted
Small bunch of coriander, roughly chopped

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In a large pot, heat the olive oil on medium high heat till it shimmers then brown the chicken pieces on all sides (I find it’s easiest to do this by placing 2 pieces of chicken in the pot at a time, holding the pot lid firmly in place and shaking it all about a little bit – this helps coat all of the chicken pieces in oil and heats them a bit more evenly).

Remove the chicken pieces and add in the onion into the same oil. When the pieces start to turn translucent, add the garlic, cinnamon, and ginger, stirring in for about a minute. Then add the tomatoes and reduce the heat and cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

In the meantime, boil your stock and dissolve the saffron in it (if you want an extra saffron punch, do this step the day before and let the saffron steep in the stock overnight in the fridge). Add this and then the chicken (plus any liquid that may have collected underneath the chicken) to the pot, mix well, and simmer on low heat, covered, for about 25-30 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through.

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The last thing you’ll do is remove the chicken pieces (set them aside and keep them warm and covered) and reduce the sauce. Do this by increasing the heat again and boiling off the liquid until it reduces to a thick, creamy sauce. When it begins to thicken, add the honey and orange flower water and adjust the seasonings. Then add the chicken pieces back in and coat with sauce.

Serve with a sprinkling of almonds, the coriander, and flatbread. And take a photo before serving because it will probably disappear quickly.

P.S. Now some of you are saying, Anny, please, saffron and orange flower water? These things I do not have. To which my reply is, the real secret of this is the timing, the tomatoes, and the honey. And the almonds. Substitute a floral ish white wine or even orange juice for the orange blossom water; find some local edible flowers instead of the saffron, which is really just a very expensive flower anyway. But you really have to make this chicken.

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3 thoughts on “chicken of dreams: if you make it…

  1. I made this Friday night for our 27th wedding anniversary dinner. We had friends over, and their very first comments were: ‘Ohhhh … yummy!’ (Debbie made a great brown-rice pilaf with almonds to go with it.) The dish has an Italian flair to it, with the garlic and tomatoes, but the ginger, cinnamon and saffron give it an exotic touch. How long do you boil it down to get that dark a sauce? Our sauce thickened but stayed medium red, after 45 minutes.

  2. So happy to hear you made it and that it went over well! As for the color, that’s a mystery to me. I’m very bad about timing, measurements, and precision in the kitchen, but quite certain I didn’t boil my sauce down for any more than 45 minutes (my guess would be between 30-45), so I’m not sure what accounts for the difference in color – maybe the difference is in the honey?

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