Roasted Chicken Thighs, with Moroccan-Inspired Flavor


By Cat, Feb 2023 (Photo, right, from Wikimedia Commons)

This recipe is based on one from Feb 1, 2023 Daily Inter Lake paper, by Christopher Kimball. The article and recipe are by Christopher Kimball; I’ve not yet tried it, but I love all the spices, so hope to try it soon.

One of the restaurants in my old Portland neighborhood (back in the 1980s) specialized in Moroccan dinners. I loved the flavors, which is why I can hardly wait to try this recipe…

For this recipe, I highly recommend using pasture-raised chicken, especially from local farmers/ranchers: and brining the chicken legs/thighs about 12-hours before you intend to cook them; then you won’t need to sprinkle salt over them before roasting.

Moroccan-Inspired Roasted Spiced Chicken Legs or Thighs

Original recipe uses legs, and serves 4; it takes about 45 minutes from start-to-finish. For my first test, I will use some chicken thighs (about 1.2 lbs) that I need to use-up (as a half-recipe).

Ingredients and Equipment

  • 3 pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken legs or thighs, preferably brined at least 12 hours before cooking, and then patted dry.
  • 5 Tbsp salted real butter (not margarine)
  • 4 medium garlic cloves, minced
  • Spice mix:
    • 2 Tbsp cumin seeds, lightly crushed
    • 1 Tbsp smoked paprika
    • ¼ – ½ tsp cayenne pepper
    • Kosher or Unrefined Sea Salt (only if you don’t brine the chicken)
    • freshly-ground black pepper
  • Herb mix:
    • 2 Tbsp finely chopped fresh cilantro, plus whole leaves to serve
    • 2 Tbsp finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, plus whole leaves to serve
    • 2 tsp packed light brown sugar (I would prefer to use stevia or molasses)
  • To serve:
    • reserved whole cilantro and parsley leaves (see above)
    • 1 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
    • fresh lemon, cut into wedges
  • Equipment
    • mortar and pestle are recommended (for crushing the cumin seeds)
    • rimmed baking sheet
    • aluminum foil (plus optional parchment paper, but not yet tested)


  1. At least 12-hours before starting to prepare the recipe, I highly recommend brining the chicken legs/thighs, then pat them dry, and let them rest in the fridge until you’re ready to start cooking. And then don’t season them with salt, as brining already does that.
  2. Preheat oven to 450°F, with a rack in the middle position.
  3. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil and set a wire rack on top, which will keep the chicken pieces from touching the toxic aluminum. You may wish to cover the foil with parchment paper before setting the wire rack on top; however the parchment paper may begin to burn in a 450° oven… I’ll update this after my first test.
  4. Prep herbs and spices:
    • mince garlic
    • lightly crush cumin seeds (do not process them to a powder, as they need to retain some texture); best to use a mortar and pestle
    • combine smoked paprika, cayenne pepper, salt (if using) and 1 tsp black pepper
    • finely chop and combine cilantro and parsley leaves
    • juice the fresh lemon
  5. In a small saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add prepped garlic and cumin; cook, swirling the pan, until seeds sizzle, 60 – 90 seconds.
  6. Stir-in paprika, cayenne and black pepper mix. Cook until spices are fragrant, 20-60 seconds.
  7. Remove from heat and whisk in cilantro and parsley mix, sweetener, and lemon juice; set aside.
  8. Prep chicken legs/thighs:
    • Using a sharp knife, cut parallel slashes on each chicken legs/thighs, about 1-inch apart all the way to the bone (so the seasonings can go deep) on both sides of each leg/thigh.
    • If you didn’t brine the pieces, season all over with salt; if you did brine them, do not salt them, as brining does that for you.
    • Then brush both sides with about half of the butter mixture.
  9. Place chicken skin-up on the prepped rack and roast for 10  minutes.
  10. Brush the remaining butter mix onto surface of the chicken,and continue to roast until well-browned and the thickest part of the leg/thigh reaches 175°F, about another 15 min.
  11. Transfer chicken to a serving platter and let rest for 10 minutes.
  12. Sprinkle with cilantro and parsley leaves, then serve with lemon wedges on the side.


(date): Not yet. I will use about 1¼ lb thighs (smaller amount than that in original recipe), so I reduced all other ingredient amounts accordingly.

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