I’m always looking for inspiration in the kitchen. When it comes to regional cuisine, a classic dish can often inspire me to bend the rules. For example, I love Italian Chicken Cacciatore, with its tomatoes, garlic, onions and capers. The challenge for me was, its traditional breading always sat a little heavy. Why not lighten it up, leave the breading off, use Moroccan spices, chickpeas and feta? The result? Something similar, yet completely different in tone. Vegetarian? Leave out the chicken completely and replace it with roasted butternut squash or zucchini. The real focus is what the regional seasoning does in relation to everything else. The Moroccan or North African seasoning called Ras El Hanout (which means: “top of the shop”) can contain anywhere from 10-100 different spices. I’ve included my version of this savory spice combination. I highly recommend making it yourself, as you can easily control the heat. I’m hooked on it and keep finding different ways to use it. You can also find it manufactured by several companies like McCormick or the Teeny Tiny Spice Company. Served over rice, couscous or quinoa, with a simple side salad of mixed greens tossed with vinaigrette and you have a dinner that’s comes together quickly and is sure to please.
Moroccan Chicken Thighs:
- 6 bone-in, skinless chicken thighs
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil
- 1 Tablespoon butter
- 1 medium onion, sliced vertically into thin strips
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 Tablespoon Ras El Hanout*
- 1 28 oz. can Muir Glen Organic Crushed Tomatoes
- 1 cup organic chickpeas, rinsed and drained
- 1/4 cup (2 oz.) crumbled feta
- 1/4 cup fresh parsley, minced
- 2 cups of cooked rice, couscous or quinoa
*Kim’s Ras El Hanout:
- 2 teaspoons ground nutmeg
- 2 teaspoons ground coriander
- 3 teaspoons ground cumin
- 2 teaspoons ground ginger
- 2 teaspoons turmeric
- 2 teaspoons Kosher salt
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1 1/2 teaspoons cane sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
- 1 1/2 teaspoons sweet paprika
- 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper (add a bit more if you want more heat)
- 1 teaspoon cardamom powder
- 1 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
Mix all the spices together and store in airtight container.
- Preheat oven to 375 F. Melt butter and olive oil in 12-inch skillet over medium heat. Saute garlic and onion until soft, about 4-5 minutes.
- Add Ras El Hanout and simmer an additional 2 minutes.
- Add crushed tomatoes and stir to combine. Take off heat. Spoon about a 1/2 cup of the sauce into a 8 x 8 casserole dish. Place chicken thighs on top of sauce.
- Sprinkle chickpeas around chicken. Spoon the rest of the sauce over the chicken. Sprinkle feta over sauce.
- Bake uncovered for 45-50 minutes, or until bubbly and chicken thighs are done.
- Remove from oven and sprinkle with minced parsley.
- Serve over rice, couscous or quinoa.
“The forest not only hides your enemies, but its full of your medicine, healing power and food.” —African Proverb