Roasted Chicken & Cauliflower, Moroccan Style

Cauliflower

Cauliflower

By Cat, Sept 2015 (Photo, right, from Wikimedia Commons)

I love cauliflower in a curry dish; see Cauliflower Curry Feast for one of my favorites. So when I saw this recipe (which is not a true curry), I just had to check it out. It’s much simpler to prepare – on a baking sheet – and has an interesting mix of flavors from Moroccan cuisine.

The original recipe is based on a famous French dish: Chicken Marbella, with plums and olive; but dried apricots are used instead of dried plums and the spice mix is Moroccan. While I love apricots, I think I would prefer plums, or perhaps a mix of the two.

See also: 1. Poultry Menu; 2. Mediterranean Menu (includes Moroccan); 3. Ras El Hanout (Moroccan Spice mix) 

Roasted Chicken & Cauliflower, Moroccan Style

This recipe is adapted from Fine Cooking (1), originally by Molly Gilbert, and serves 4 – 6. Instead of chicken breasts, thighs are used; the juicy richness of the dark meat is a better combination with the spicy flavors..

The Moroccan spice mix, Ras el Hanout (“head of the shop”) is Morocco’s version of a curry mix. The spices in the original recipe are not as complex as Ras el Hanout, so I highly recommend mixing up some of the Moroccan mix, and add dried lavender (as suggested in the spice mix recipe). Dried rose buds are also an excellent addition, if you can find them.

Ingredients & Equipment

  • 8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs (about 2 lb. total)
  • 1 large head cauliflower
  • ¾ cup coarsely chopped dried apricots or plums (or a mix of the two), soaked in hot water for 5 minutes and drained
  • 1 cup pitted brined green olives (or a brined Greek mix), halved or quartered if large
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • ¾ tsp unrefined sea salt
  • Marinade:
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbs. apple cider vinegar
  • roughly half of the spice mix
  • ¾ tsp unrefined sea salt
  • Spice mix:
  • 5 – 6 tsp Ras El Hanout (Moroccan Spice mix) with ¼ – ½ tsp ground dried lavender and/or rose buds (optional, to taste); OR the following spices:
    • 4 tsp. curry powder
    • 1 tsp. smoked paprika
    • ½ tsp. ground cinnamon
    • ¼  tsp. cayenne pepper, or to taste
    • ¼ – ½ tsp ground dried lavender and/or rose buds, optional, to taste
  • Garnish:
  • ⅓ cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 large lemon, cut into 4 to 6 wedges
  • Equipment:
  • Baking sheet

Method

  1. Marinate thighs: In a medium bowl, combine the marinade ingredients; add chicken thighs and toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate for at least 8 hours and up to overnight.
  2. Next day: Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 450°F. Line a large rimmed sheet pan with parchment.
  3. Chop apricots/plums roughly, enough to fill ¾ cup. Add the olives, cutting large ones in half; set aside.
  4. Wash cauliflower and break into individual florets (bite-size pieces). Place on the prepared pan and sprinkle with the olive oil, 3¾ tsp salt and the other half of the spice mix over. Toss to coat. Add the fruit/olive mix, and spread in a single layer.
  5. Remove the chicken thighs from the marinade, fold them back into their original shape, and place them on top of the cauliflower, spaced evenly apart. Discard any remaining marinade.
  6. Roast: Place pan in preheated oven and roast, rotating the pan halfway through, until the cauliflower browns and the chicken cooks through (165°F), about 35 minutes.
  7. Remove the chicken from the pan and toss the cauliflower mixture with the pan drippings. Serve the chicken and cauliflower mixture sprinkled with the cilantro and the lemon wedges on the side.

References:

  1. Fine Cooking (finecooking.com/recipes/curried-chicken-thighs-cauliflower-apricots.aspx)

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