Monday, November 5, 2012

Sunday Dinners: Moroccan/Spanish Chicken for a Crowd

These days feel surreal. Walking around outside is a stark reminder of last week’s hurricane; so many trees and wires dangle, and blocks of darkness are still among us. Now it’s chilly…and so the lack of electricity, hot water—and heat—will create  another surge of serious consequences. And yikes, now another storm is coming? 

Amidst a mood that feels somewhat apocalyptic, we celebrate the support and love of friends and family we have nearby, and the food we are thankfully able to  enjoy…together. In this spirit, I bring you today’s recipe.

On Saturday I was back to work, and told our wonderful office assistant (that would be Brian!) that I was going to be cooking for a crowd; he generously shared his standard dinner party recipe (or one of his favorites, right, Brian?!) which as earned him accolades from many guests! So when I fought the market crowds on Saturday evening, it was with the objective of buying all the ingredients to make what he calls Moroccan Chicken.

And here’s when I become a hypocrite: I always suggest that people follow a recipe the way it reads the first time they make it. I tell them that the first one should be by the book, and then, once they’ve made it, they can start with variations. But I rarely do that. Such was the case with Brian’s Moroccan Chicken.  Basically, I took his recipe and changed it based on what I had on hand—and based on taste! I made it for 16, but I’m sharing a recipe for about 6. Hope you like it!

Moroccan-Spanish Chicken (Sorry! Couldn’t think of a clever name for this dish… Still thinking!)

Serves about 8

10 to 12 chicken thighs, with skin on (The skin bit is optional…I actually did some with/some without. Also, you can use other pieces of chicken.)
All-purpose flour
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
Canola oil for frying
Paprika (love my new Spanish paprika…)
Zest from about 2 lemons—or about 1 tablespoon lemon zest
2 tablespoons capers
6 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons ground cumin
4 red onions
12 cinnamon sticks
4  cups white wine
1 1/2 cups chicken stock
2 cups pitted prunes

Dust the chicken thighs in flour with a bit of salt and pepper. Heat a sauté pan (or two!) with enough oil for frying several pieces of chicken at a time. Cook the chicken, skin side down first, until browned, about 6 minutes per side, sprinkling some of the paprika on top of the pieces once you flip them. Transfer the pieces to a lightly greased backing dish (the pieces will have grease from having been cooked in it!). Arrange the chicken on a single layer. Sprinkle the pieces with lemon zest and capers. Set aside.

You can deglaze the sauté pans (or a deeper pan because you’ll be adding liquid!) with some white wine, OR you can get a clean one (or clean one!). Heat a bit of oil (I used the oil from the chicken—which then had a bit of orange from the paprika!) and sauté the garlic, stirring constantly, for about 1 minute. Add the onions. After a few minutes, once they’ve softened, add the cinnamon sticks, cumin, and white wine. Let simmer until reduced by half, about 15 minutes. Add the chicken stock, heat, and season. Add the prunes and let cook until plump and warm, just a couple of minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Ladle the wine/onion/prune mixture evenly over the chicken. Bake until the chicken is cooked through, about 45 minutes to an hour.  Serve warm or at room temperature.

Plated--with Parsley-Rice and Salad

Here we're the table with dear old friend Wady, and his brother  Gonzalo. Both travelled from Costa Rica to NY for the Marathon...and stayed for dinner! 

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