I am hooked on the smell of interestingly spiced food cooking on a late fall afternoon.
Spice versus Herbs
The joy of cooking goes far beyond eating since so much pleasure can come from infusing your home with amazing aromas from spices. Coming into a home filled with the perfume of cinnamon or the magnetic pull of cardamom is sheer delight. Many people often confuse herbs and spices. Herbs are from the leaves of non-woody plants while spices come from the root, flower, seed, bark or fruit. A detail explanation for food nerds can be found at this link.
One of my all time favorite recipe is this simple Moroccan dish that I have had in several places around the world. The mixture of spices can be used with Cornish hen, chicken or turkey. My version is a variation on a theme but take relatively low-cost and common ingredient (chicken) and elevates it to spectacular. Your guests will be singing it's praise.
(this is the part of the blog where the song from the Spice girls plays in the background..."I'll tell you what I want what I really, really want...")
DRY INGREDIENTS: Two teaspoons each of the following spices: Cinnamon, cumin, curry (powder), cardamom, caraway seed, sesame seeds, poppy seeds, allspice and paprika. Place all spices and seeds into a bowl and blend with a fork.
In a separate bowl mix 1 cup of EVOO (Extra Virgin Olive Oil), 2 cups of Mango juice and the zest of one navel orange. You can get Mango juice at most grocery stores. Bolthouse sells it fresh in the refrigerated case. Substitute orange juice if you can find Mango or some other exotic citrus or blend. POG is a great choice (Passion Fruit/Orange/Guava) or even Tangerine Juice. Try Noble Brand Tangerine Juice if you can find it. You'll also need agave or honey to drizzle.
|Bolthouse Mango Juice|
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. While the oven is pre-heating, take an incredibly sharp knife and cut along the backbone of the chicken to split it in half.
Place the chicken in a well-oiled baking pan or dish. I like to use Pyrex. Pour the liquid over the top half of the chicken and then sprinkle the dry rub on top. Turn the chicken over and do the same thing on the other side. You want to end up with the chicken skin side up as seen in this photo:
|Split the chicken along the backbone|
Place some white cap mushrooms and a few cherry tomatoes around the edge of the chicken. Add Kosher salt and pepper on top. Place the chicken on the center rack of the preheated oven. Drizzle some Agave or honey on top before popping into the oven. I used the amber color Agave that has a rich caramel flavor and it was a great contrast to the complex spices combo.
|Drizzle Agave on top and place into a 425 degree oven|
Bake on each side for about 35 minutes for a total cooking time of one hour and 10 minutes. The breast meat will be done, it is possible the dark meat will need a little more time. This chicken was on the small to mid size and it was fully cooked after one hour and 10 minutes.
You will want the chicken to cool for about 20 minutes before eating. I also suggest taking all of the liquids and skimming off the fat and reducing it down to add as a sauce on top.
My favorite way to skim the fat is to use one of these handy devices that are available everywhere. Just pour in the liquids and the fat rises and you just have the beautiful stock/juices left to cook down. Cook that precious liquid on the stove for about 5 minutes at a high temperature to thicken. No need to add anything to it.
|Skim that fat|
A Side of Aroma
I made a garnet yam and some fresh asparagus that just had a little butter and kosher salt on top. For wine, I had a very interesting Rioja from Spain that was modest in price but not in taste. The wine was a wonderful compliment to the spicy-rich chicken.
|Campo Viejo Rioja |
This dish is not spicy hot- it is spicy, aromatic and slightly sweet. Your house will smell unbelievable like a small cafe in Morocco.
|Your home will smell like a Moroccan Cafe |
Labels: Food and Wine, Food and Wine Moments, recipes