Monday, July 1, 2013

Moroccan Chicken from Mark's Daily Apple

A great thing about paleo cooking is it introduces you to new flavors and spices.  This Moroccan Chicken Casserole from Mark's Daily Apple cooked like it would be a great way to expand my usual cooking flavors.  

Surprisingly, I already had all of the spices needed in my pantry.  I'm taking that as a sign my kitchen is becoming well stocked.  *Pat on back.*

I gathered my ingredients and started preparing the dish.  

I decided to prepare all of my vegetables first and then cut up my chicken before getting started on any of the cooking.  I'm all for prepping as I go to save on time when I can, but for reasons I'll reveal below, I recommend doing all preparation work before doing any of the cooking.   This isn't the specific reason, but doing all the vegetable preparation first will also help prevent cross contamination from cutting up your chicken if you aren't using pre-butchered pieces.   

I turned my oven on to pre-heat to 375.  Now that I know how long it takes to prepare this recipe, I will wait a while before turning on the oven.  

I riced a head of cauliflower in my food processor and added it to my oven safe rectangular baking dish.  

Next, I measured out all of the spices needed into a bowl so they would be ready to add when needed.  I suggest you do the same.

The recipe is geared toward using chicken pieces.  I'm still working my way through the whole organic chickens I got during Whole Foods one day sale, so I cut one of those into pieces.  I seasoned the chicken on both sides with salt and pepper.

I was finally ready to cook.  I heated my 12" skillet over high heat with 1 tablespoon of butter.  Once the pan was hot, I browned the chicken pieces 5 minutes per side.

When the chicken was done, I removed it from the pan to a mixing bowl and added the onions, garlic, ginger to the pan and turned the heat down to medium.  Once the onions were soft, I added all of the spices.  It is super helpful to have already pre-measured the spices and don't risk potentially over cook the onions while measuring.  

Mix the spices in well.  I love the color the spices gave to the vegetables-  a concentrated pan of flavor potential.

Next, I added the red pepper, tomatoes, and parsley   I had already added the salt with the rest of the spices.  I don't think my early addition of the salt made a difference.  I carefully added the chicken back to the pan and let it simmer.  

After five minutes,  I carefully removed the chicken pieces from the pan and laid them on top of the bed of cauliflower rice in my rectangular glass baking dish.  

I then used a ladle to add the vegetable tomato mixture to the baking dish.  You'll want to be careful as this hot liquid can burn you!  I made sure the chicken and "rice" were fully covered by the vegetable mixture.  I topped each pieces of chicken with a lemon slice.  You might want to buy 2 lemons to make sure you have enough slices.  

I covered the dish with foil, put it in the oven and set a timer for 35 minutes.  When the timer went off, I  removed the foil and set another timer for 25 minutes.  

Here's the completed dish.  

This dish looks so freaking pretty!

Accessibility & Cost of Ingredients: You should be able to find everything you need for this recipe at your big box grocery store fairly inexpensively.  If you buy a whole chicken and cut it up yourself, you can save few dollars over pre-butchered chicken pieces.  

Preparation and Cooking Time:  It took me 1 hour and 2 minutes to prepare this dish before putting it in the oven for a total of 1 hour.  If you buy your chicken in pieces already, you can knock off the time it takes you to cut up a whole chicken from that preparation time.

Clean Up:  This recipe creates a fair amount of items for the dish washer so as long as you have an empty dishwasher to take it all, its not bad.  I pre-scrubbed my glass baking dish before putting it into the dishwasher.  I hand washed my skillet and wooden spoon.  

The Paleo Review:  Two Thumbs High Up!  The flavor of this dish is amazing!  The bold earthy flavors of the juicy chicken and vegetable mixture will fill your mouth with glee!  The cauliflower rice absorbs all of the flavors and really could easily be mistaken as cous cous.  I took some to my friend Martha try and took notes as she graciously agreed to try it.  Before even tasting she thought it smelled delightful.  It is very aromatic.   Here are a few quotes from Martha's tasting:

"Oh my God, it's so good!"
"Really Lovely."
"The spices are perfect."
"This is something I'd make for my family."

I'm happy to report that I let her in on what it was before completing my review post, and she has, in fact, made it for family and friends.  

My only wish would be that there were cauliflower/vegetables to eat with the chicken.  I'm thinking of just making this as a vegetable side dish without the chicken.  If I do, I'll report back with my results.  

Now, why do I recommend pre-prepping the vegetables before cooking?  I actually made this dish for the first time a few months ago.  I uploaded my pictures and sat down to write my review.  I wasn't very impressed with the dish that time.  As I re-read the recipe, I discovered I had done something really stupid.  I basically had only cooked the recipe for the first 35 minutes and somehow completely over looked that it needed another 25 minutes of cooking.  There is no other word for this than stupid.  

Since I had all of these pictures, I decided I had to make the dish again, and I am oh so glad I did.  Amazing how fully cooking a dish will make all the difference.  Duh.  All of this, just to say, I didn't do all of my preparation before starting the cooking and the cooking session turned into a hurried mess for my trying to keep up with the quick pace of adding ingredients/spices.  Do yourself a favor and prepare the ingredients before cooking.  

I bet this would freeze reasonably well, but it was so good, I ate all of it before it could hit the freezer.  

With the amount of preparation time, I'll likely reserve it as a weekend dish, but I will certainly make this again and again.