Wednesday, 20 December 2017

Braised Chicken Thighs with Apricots and Onions

We love the sweet, savoury and spicy combination that seems to be in every Moroccan dish, and this took advantage of all of that, using cinnamon, cumin, coriander, paprika and turmeric as well as a touch of honey. I served the chicken on fluffy couscous that was steamed with grated zucchini, and soaked up all the sauce, and garnished it with toasted almonds.

Braising the chicken with apricots allowed me to use up the few dried apricots I had, and adding grated zucchini to the couscous took care of the half zucchini in the fridge; this  added another vegetable, as well as moisture to the couscous.

Combine the spices and rub them onto the chicken thighs. You will need:

6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
3/4 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

Using olive oil, and a hot pan, sear the chicken on both sides. I used a harissa infused olive oil.

Remove the chicken from the pan and set it aside. Keep the pan for the sauce.

Add to the pan, and cook until starting to soften and caramelize:

1 medium onion, thinly sliced
4 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
More olive oil if needed


1 cup water

Bring to a boil, scraping the bits off the bottom of the pan.

Return the seared chicken to the pan, along with:

1 cup roughly chopped dried apricots

Turn the heat down to simmer, cover the pan, and cook until the chicken is fully cooked and tender, about 45 minutes.

Using a couple of forks, pull the chicken thighs into slightly smaller pieces.

1 tablespoon honey

Simmer until the sauce is the desired consistency. Taste and adjust seasoning.

Serve the chicken on top of steamed couscous, and garnish with chopped toasted almonds. I added half a zucchini, grated, to the water at the same time as the couscous, and allowed them to steam together.

  • The spices can be combined with olive oil to make a paste, and this can be rubbed onto the chicken and left to marinade overnight.
  • Chicken breasts, whole or cubed for kebabs can be used instead of chicken thighs. If you make a paste with the spices and oil, it can be rubbed onto the skin of a whole chicken (place some under the skin of the breast as well) before roasting.
  • The water can be replaced with chicken stock if you have some available.
  • Instead of apricots use raisins, prunes, dates.
  • The ratio of couscous to water is 2:3. Bring the water to a boil, add the couscous all at once, cover and remove from the heat. Leave to steam for 10 minutes before fluffing with a fork and serving.
  • For 4 people I use 1 cup of couscous and 1 1/2 cups of water. Apple juice or chicken stock can also be used for all, or part of, the water.
  • Grated zucchini or raisins can be added along with the couscous.

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