This is how the first experiment turned out. It was not difficult, though I'm unfamiliar with how it's supposed to look or taste and have no basis on comparison. It was an easy and delicious first try, though!
I found the recipe at http://www.moroccan-recipes.com/Moroccan-Chicken-With-Olives.html
I started with this recipe for the simple reason that it was so very simple, and the only spices it called for were all ready in my spice cabinet...salt, pepper, ginger, and paprika.
Here's the recipe:
Moroccan Chicken With Olives
4 Pounds Chicken
2 1/2 Tablespoons Oil
2 Onions -- sliced
Salt And Pepper -- to taste
1/4 Teaspoon Ginger
1 Teaspoon Paprika
1 Onion -- finely chopped
1/2 Pound Green Olives
1 Lemon/ Lemon Juice
Heat the oil in large sauce pan. Add 3/4 cup water gradually. Add onion slices, sprinkle with spices. Lay chicken on top. Cook over low heat, covered, one hour. Add finely chopped onion. Cook for another 1/2 hour. Place pitted olives in pan of cold water, bring to boil for 1 minute. Drain water. Add olives to pan. Cook for 5 minutes. Just before serving squeeze on lemon.
Serving Ideas : Serve with rice or couscous
Since this recipe includes green olives, I used olive oil for the first step of cooking the onion and spices. Can you see what I forgot?
Yup! The paprika! You'll see when it dawns on me something doesn't look right. One of the unknowns with this recipe is that it calls for 4 lbs. of chicken, but it never mentions whether to include the skin. Usually, I like to brown the skin before continuing. I read some other recipes, however, that included the skins and did not call for browning so, still feeling a bit insecure about whether I was doing it right or not, I just tucked em on the top of the onion and spices and let 'em slow cook as is, per the recipe. I confess the spice amounts seemed scant, so I added more.
At the same time, I sauteed some mushrooms to be incorporated later into the cous cous. Because you can never have too many sauteed mushrooms...and if nothing else turned out to be edible, I knew they would!
Here's a pic of the second step, after the chicken and spices cooked for an hour. My onions don't qualify for "finely chopped." Ah ha! You can see I now had reviewed the recipe and had added the missing paprika! (more than the recipe calls for, of course!)
I'm still insecure about how it's going to taste. At this point, the chicken is still pale and bland looking and knowing that the spice list called for NO GARLIC makes me pace about the kitchen, wondering if it will, indeed, be edible ;-) I deliberately force myself NOT to touch the garlic powder shaker. HOWEVER, my insecurity gets the best of me and I DO go ahead and add a few bits of fresh lemon to the bubbling dish. I keep having to shoo Jack away from the green olives till it's time to add them.
The recipe called for boiling the green olives for one minute, which also seemed sort of like a crime, since I had those wonderful olives I can only find at the deli...I didn't used the canned sort. But boiling and draining them before incorporating them into the dish did mellow them and make their mouth texture smoother and more buttery than crunchy...mmm.Ahhh! They're added, and so is the juice of fresh lemons...and ah yes, well I did throw those clean lemon skins in, roughly chopped, for some more color and zing! (Told you I can't stick to a recipe) But I've still not added any garlic. Something genetically-programmed in me is battling against this recipe and URGING me to add garlic at this point...but....I resist. How will I ever know what it's supposed to taste like if I keep changing the recipe??
I serve it up, with rice pilaf and sauteed mushrooms on the side. Why rice pilaf?? Because I am short on time, I decided to make the boxed sort of cous cous and instead opened the boxed sort of rice pilaf. I have no idea if these things "go together," but we ate them...we feasted! I had some pizza dough in the fridge and decided to try making a skillet bread with some of it. I flattened a few balls of dough and cooked them on a flat oiled cast iron skillet set on a low setting. When they were done on both sides, I drizzled a small amount of olive oil over them, sprinkled GARLIC powder (ahhh, relief!), and a brief grind of sea salt...then chopped cilantro. Ohhhh, yeahhhh...this'll do me till I learn how to cook the more authentic middle eastern skillet breads.
And here is the final leftover...sorry for no pics of the main feast! We've now eaten on it for three days, and it's been good every time. Today's final plate was cous cous mixed with spinach leaves sauteed in a drop of olive oil and sea salt and folded all together when done, topped with chopped cilantro and a half lemon squeezed over the chicken and all. This last little thigh is all that's left, and the olive was lucky to have survived this long....mmm, supper!
Would I make this again?? Yes! I'll look to see what spices other similar green olive and lemon chicken recipes use, and might get all sassy with 'em. But even with these, it's delicious!
I still don't know about browning the chicken, or using skinless. I simply removed the meat from the dish when done and served it like that using some liquid as sauce, and overnight I refrigerated the remaining liquid (there's a lot) and skimmed the fat off the top the next day...that's the part it doesnt say to do, but there was a lot of fat at the top of the liquid.
The flavors are both subtle and distinct. The lemon and olives MAKE this dish, and adding a fresh squeeze of lemon when serving ramps up the taste for lemon lovers like my family.
Now that I've tried this, I'll move on to the next "Moroccan" experiment...I don't know how authentically Moroccan this is, but it's at least remotely North African/Mediterranean/Middle Eastern.
And whatever else it was or wasn't, it tasted great!