Oh, kids...there really is no excuse for me! Here it is, Saturday night...and no Moroccan Dish to show! A few hours ago I was proud of myself for cooking four meals in a row that my small family loved...but I forgot Morocco. (For the record, here's my success story. Friday: apple crisp, from Mom's recipe, using apples picked last week. Dessert counts! Oh, and for dinner we had Traditional Chinese - rice (duh!), eggs and stewed tomatoes, and a steamed fish with ginger and green onions. This morning, it was light, fluffy pancakes. Dinner was a good old fashioned pot of spaghetti with meat sauce, Lo Gung's choice.)
ANYWHOO...I didn't want to punish all of you because I forgot to cook Moroccan food. So, I would like to present a version of the recipe that I would have cooked...had I remembered to. (I'm afraid I can't share the original, since my Godfather**** gave me his personal recipe and did not give me leave to share it.)
This dish is best eaten over scented rice, with your fingers. Trust me.
(Adapted from RiceandSpice.wordpress.com)
One whole chicken, divided into 8 pieces**
6 cloves garlic
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
a pinch saffron
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp powdered ginger (don’t substitute fresh)
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/4 c. canola or peanut oil
2 large yellow onions, grated and drained in a colander
1/4 c. packed chopped cilantro
1/4 c. packed chopped parsley
1/2-3/4 c. olives*
1 preserved lemon, peel only, sliced finely (Recipes abound online for how to preserve your own lemons, if you cannot find them in your ethnic grocery. However, these take about a month, so plan ahead!)
juice of 1/2-1 lemon
*You may use any olive. Canned, American "black olives" are not recommended, since they are, quite frankly, kind of nasty and won't give you the right flavor for this sauce. If your olives are bitter, they can be blanched and drained first.
** You may cook two chickens at once in the same sauce. You will need to double the amount of olives and preserved lemon. Of course, you will need the largest Dutch Oven known to man to pull this off. Yes, my Godfather owns the Largest Dutch Oven Known to Man. It's oval. He cooks two chickens at once and freezes one.
The day before, pound the garlic in the mortar and pestle with the other spices. Moisten mixture with the oil. Pull the skin off the chicken and rub with garlic paste. Refrigerate overnight.
The next day, place chickens in a large, heavy pot, preferably enameled cast iron. Add grated onions, herbs and about 2 c. water. Bring to boil, cover and lower heat. Simmer 40 minutes.
When chicken is tender and falling off the bone, add olives and lemon peel. Continue cooking 10-15 minutes. When ready to serve, pull chicken and as many olives as you can out of the sauce and arrange on serving platter. Boil sauce vigorously until reduced and thickened. Taste and season with lemon juice and additional sauce if necessary. Pour sauce over chicken and serve.
***Godfather also recommends cooking the liver with the chicken, if at all possible. After you remove the chicken from the broth, mash the liver up and return it to the broth. This will make a much thicker, richer sauce.
****He's not really my Godfather. He used to be my Home Teacher, a man assigned to our family to visit us once a month and check on our spiritual and temporal well-being. After a "shake up" in the assignments, he was no longer assigned to our family. He feigned ignorance, and never stopped visiting us. However, without the official title of Home Teacher, he was no longer obligated to share lessons with us, freeing up his time to cook us elaborate meals instead. One day at church, I was introducing him to a friend of mine and I stumbled over what I should call him - he was a family friend, but had so much more history than that. He smoothly stepped in and explained that he was my "gawdfaathah." Having been raised a Jewish New Yorker, he had the perfect accent to pull this off - and we never looked back.