This Friday, I had the family over for Shabbat. My brother and his wife are visiting so I wanted to make something extra special. My niece has taken over the challah baking for me and my nephew helped out by bringing a salad. It’s so lovely when we can all be together. Some day I hope that Matthew and Frances will be able to be here regularly for Shabbat with their children (hint hint). We also would love for our niece and nephew and their three children from Atlanta to come join us as well. I’m frankly not sure where we would put everyone, but somehow we would manage. I have one of these tables that seems to expand to feed the masses and no one has ever complained about being cozily squeezed in when the food and company are good.
Friday’s dinner included Roasted Tomato Soup, Jerusalem Salad, Moroccan Beet Salad, Roasted Eggplant Dip, Moroccan Chicken, Moroccan Carrot salad, Israeli Couscous, and my Apple Frangiapane Tart for dessert along with Glazed Apricots. There is nothing like good food shared with people you love. We were four generations sharing our love for one another and our traditions. What could be better than that?
Moroccan Chicken with Preserved Lemons and Olives adapted from Shallots New York
Yield: 12-14 servings
5 boneless skinless chicken thighs
5 chicken legs
4 large skinless boneless chicken breasts, cut in half to make 8 pieces
10 large cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
1/2 teaspoon of saffron threads, crushed
1.5 teaspoons ground dried ginger
2.5 teaspoons sweet Hungarian paprika
1.5 teaspoons ground cumin
1.5 teaspoons ground turmeric
Kosher salt and cracked black pepper to taste (if using Kosher chicken, do not add additional salts since the other ingredients have a great deal of salt)
7 medium yellow onions, thinly sliced
4 cinnamon sticks
1.5 cups of pitted cracked green olives and kalamata olives (or any good mix of Mediterranean green and black olives)
4 preserved lemons, quartered with pulp removed and skin sliced into thin strips (You can purchase preserved lemons from Morocco in amny places nowadays. They are not difficult to make, but you have to plan ahead since they take 2 weeks to cure.)
3 cups of good chicken stock, preferably unsalted
Juice of 2 lemons
Flat leaf parsley, finely chopped for garnish
- In 2 heavy gallon freezer bags, mix the garlic, saffron, ginger, cumin and turmeric, evenly divided. If not using Kosher chicken, add 1/2 teaspoon of salt to each bag and about 5 cracks of black pepper to each bag. Divide the chicken pieces into the bag, remove the excess air and “massage” the chicken with the spices. Refrigerate for at least 5 hours or overnight.
- In a large Dutch oven, heat 3 Tablespooms of EVOO and brown the chicken pieces in batches. Set the chicken aside on a platter. Don’t worry about brown bits stuck to the bottom. In the same Dutch oven, add another Tablespoon of EVOO and add the sliced onions and cook over medium low heat for 15 minutes, until they begin to brown. Add the cinnamon sticks.
- Place the chicken pieces over the onions and scatter the olives over the chicken. Then scatter the strips of preserved lemon pulp over the top. Mix the chicken stock with the fresh lemon juice and pour it over everything. Bring the liquid to a boil, cover the Dutch oven tightly, reduce the heat to simmer and cook for 35 minutes.
- Serve with Israeli couscous and top with minced parsley. You should serve lots of Mediterranean salads on the side.