Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Moroccan Chicken Breasts with Olives and Lemon

Moroccan Chicken Breasts with Olives and Lemon
Servings: 4
From Cook's Illustrated

1 1/4 tsp. sweet paprika
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. ground coriander
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
3 strips lemon zest(each about 2 inches by 3/4 inch) - use a vegetable peeler
3 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice, from 1 to 2 lemons
5 medium cloves garlic, minced or pressed through garlic press (about 5 teaspoons)
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts(8 ounces each), trimmed of excess fat
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 large onion, halved and cut into 1/4-inch slices (about 3 cups)
1 3/4 c. chicken broth
1 Tbsp. honey
2 medium carrots, peeled and cut crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick coins, very large pieces cut into half-moons (about 2 cups)
1 c. Greek cracked green olives, pitted and halved
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro leaves

Combine spices in small bowl and set aside. Mince 1 strip lemon zest; combine with 1 teaspoon minced garlic and mince together until reduced to fine paste; set aside.

Season both sides of chicken liberally with salt and pepper. Heat oil in large heavy-bottomed Dutch oven over medium-high heat until beginning to smoke. Brown chicken until lightly golden, about 2 minutes; using tongs, turn chicken and brown on second side, about 2 minutes more. Transfer chicken to large plate.

Add onion and 2 remaining lemon zest strips to pot and cook, stirring occasionally, until onions have browned at edges but still retain shape, 5 to 7 minutes (add 1 tablespoon water if pan gets too dark). Add remaining 4 teaspoons garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add spices and cook, stirring constantly, until darkened and very fragrant, 45 seconds to 1 minute. Stir in broth and honey, scraping bottom of pot with wooden spoon to loosen browned bits.

Add carrots to pot and arrange chicken on top of carrots. Cover and reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer until instant-read thermometer inserted into thickest part of breast registers 160 degrees, 10 to 15 minutes, flipping chicken halfway through cooking.

Transfer chicken to plate or bowl and tent with foil. Add olives to pot; increase heat to medium-high and simmer until liquid has thickened slightly and carrots are tender, 4 to 6 minutes. Return chicken to pot and add garlic-zest mixture, cilantro, and lemon juice; stir to combine and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.

NOTES: My best culinary discovery of Fall 2011 was the use of olives as ingredients. So complex and flavorful, and they add a briny saltiness to food such that they can sometimes be used in place of salt. Pair this dish with Couscous Pilaf with Raisins and Almonds.

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