poultry

moroccan spiced chicken with preserved lemon + dates + wine pairing

Like most Moroccan dishes, it's pretty straightforward to prepare.  While it has a ton of things going on but not one flavor is prominent.  My husband and I both thought at first taste that it could use a little heat.  After a few more bites, we changed our minds.  It's kind of perfect.  Through the complexity of the spices, the sour/saltiness of the preserved lemons and the sweetness of the dates, the dish just gets deeper and deeper in flavor.

I served it with couscous and a simple salad of mixed greens.

moroccan spiced chicken with preserved lemon + dates

Serves 6

Time: about 10-15 minutes of prep, 20-25 minutes cooking, 5 minutes to finish the dish. About 45 minutes, door to table.

3 lbs boneless, skinless organic chicken breasts, cut into 1 1/2" wide strips

4 T tan-tan Moroccan seasoning

4 T olive oil

4 T water

2 T butter

1/2 c chicken broth

1 large onion, sliced

rind of 2 preserved lemons, cut into thin strips

1 bunch of flat leaf parsley

1 T lemon juice

pulp from 2 preserved lemons

15-20 dates, pitted and roughly chopped

for the couscous:

2 c couscous

2 c water or chicken broth

1/4 c pine nuts, toasted

2-3 cloves of garlic, chopped

juice of 1 lemon

1-2 T butter

1/4 parsley, chopped

salt and pepper to taste

Pre-heat oven to 400º

Mix together the tan-tan with the oil and water.  Toss the chicken in the paste to coat.

Heat a large dutch oven to medium-high heat and melt the butter.  Add the chicken and saute the strips for about 2-3 minutes.

Add the onions and broth.  Lay the parsley over the whole mixture, cover and place in the oven.

Bake for about 20-25 minutes until the chicken is cooked through.

Start your couscous.

Heat a large saute pan to medium-high and melt the butter.  

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Add the garlic and couscous, stirring constantly for about 30 seconds.  Turn off the heat, add the water or broth, lemon juice and cover.  When you are ready to serve, toss in the pine nuts, parsley and season with salt and pepper.

When the chicken is done, discard the parsley, remove the chicken from the sauce and set aside.

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Bring the sauce to simmer and add the dates, lemon juice, pulp, and rinds.

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Add the chicken back into the sauce and adjust seasonings.

Serve with couscous and drink with:

Wine Pairing:

Any dish with this kind of in-your-face flavor should have a wine equally as striking to accompany it.  This chicken calls for a light to medium bodied red, preferably more on the traditional or old world side.  Moroccan spices, which include both sweet and savory components, and the incorporation of the preserved lemons and dates will go beautifully with a wine that has a touch (not too much) of its own spice and a bit of earthiness.  Well-rounded reds with softer tannins are a sure hit with this recipe.

Here’s what we suggest:

http://www.coolvines.com/wines/802816700010909/Murgo-Etna-Rosso-2009

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http://www.coolvines.com/wines/browse/29a4384-07c8bb2-60d2548