Moroccan-Inspired Roast Chicken

There are few things in the world as wonderful as a fantastic roast chicken. This one borrows some flavors from Northern African cuisines. A bit of harissa (a Tunisian chili paste) for some spice, and dried fruit for some sweet and sour.

Served with cous cous, this makes a very hearty meal for 4 people, or for two with lunch the next day. We often each eat a leg, thigh and wing, with some of the fruit, veggies, sauce and cous cous for dinner, then shred up the breasts into the leftover fruit, veggies, and sauce, and make some more cous cous to mix in with that for lunch the next day (or a day or two later).

Because you're essentially braising it in liquid, the chicken remains very moist and is falling apart by the time you have finished cooking it (literally, I lifted the chicken out of the pot and the wings just fell off). All the vegetables, fruit and stock roasting together and mixing with the chicken fat produces an incredibly rich sauce to pour over everything.

Give this recipe a try, you won't regret it! This is one of those recipes where we never measure anything, so amounts here will be a bit vague, but measure it out to your taste, and then adjust as you go at each step.

  • 1 whole chicken, about 4.5 lbs (2 kg).
  • Mustard seed (a little bit)
  • Coriander seed (a stupid amount)
  • Dried fruit (we used apricots and cherries), chopped
  • Cous cous (we used 1.5 cups, but make as much as you want to eat)
  • Harissa to taste
  • Chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2-3 sweet potatoes or yams, peeled and cut into small chunks
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 2-inch piece of ginger, peeled and grated
  • Zest of one orange, juice of 2 oranges
  1. Preheat oven to 375 F (190 C)
  2. Grind up mustard seed and coriander seed in a spice grinder, set aside.
  3. Dice your onion, peel and chop up the sweet potatoes or yams, mince the garlic, and peel and grate your ginger. Set aside.
  4. Pat your chicken dry, and in a large Dutch Oven over medium-high heat, heat up some olive oil and brown the chicken both on the breast side and the back side until nicely browned.
  5. Remove the chicken from the pot.
  6. Lower heat to medium.
  7. Toss in the onion, and cook until beginning to soften.
  8. While onion is cooking, zest one of your oranges, and then juice both of them.
  9. Toss in the ground spices, cook for a minute until fragrant.
  10. Toss in the ginger and garlic, again cook for a short time until fragrant.
  11. Add the stock, orange juice, orange zest, dried fruit, and harissa - heat until simmering.
  12. Put the chicken back in the pot, and drop in the chunks of sweet potato around it.
  13. Cover the pot and put in the oven, cook until it's done (cooking time will depend on the oven and the size of the chicken - for a 4.5 pound/2 kg chicken, check after 40 min).
  14. While chicken is cooking, heat up a small amount of oil (1-2 tbsp) in a skillet over medium heat.
  15. Toast the cous cous in the oil until slightly browned, then add water or stock according to the cous cous directions on the package. Simmer in the liquid until the cous cous has absorbed all of it and is properly cooked.
  16. Once the chicken is fully cooked, pull it out of the oven, let it rest for a few minutes, and then cut into pieces.
  17. If there is a lot of liquid left in the chicken pot, you can strain out the veggies and fruit and reduce it over high heat until it thickens.
  18. Serve chicken pieces over a bed of cous cous with the vegetables and fruit, and drizzle some of the cooking liquid over everything.
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Diane said...

Yum! But how much is a stupid amount? Because stupid could be little... and stupid could be real, real, real big.

Dave Feucht said...

Err on the big side :)