Fragrant and a little exotic, this Moroccan Chicken Stew made with saffron, cumin and turmeric is full of flavour and great for entertaining. Traditional North African merguez sausages, spiced with harissa and made of lamb or beef, are a nice addition to this stew.
1 pinch saffron threads, crumbled
1 whole chicken, cut into pieces
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
2 tbsp. olive oil
3 medium onions, chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 tbsp. chopped fresh ginger
1 tbsp. turmeric
1 cinnamon stick
1 tsp. cumin seeds, toasted and ground
2 to 3 cups chicken stock
1 cup canned chickpeas
3/4 cup green olives, pitted and cut in half
Juice of 2 lemons
Handful Italian parsley, chopped
Handful coriander, chopped
6 merguez sausages (optional)
Add pinch of saffron to 2 tbsp. of water. Soak for 10 minutes. Set aside.
Season the chicken pieces with salt and pepper.
Heat 2 tbsp. olive oil in Dutch oven, tagine or large skillet over medium high heat. When oil is hot, add the chicken pieces. Cook until well browned on all sides, about 10 minutes. Transfer chicken to large plate or dish.
Add onions, garlic, ginger, turmeric, cinnamon stick and cumin to the Dutch oven. Cook until onions are softened and lightly golden, about 5 minutes. Stir in saffron mixture. Add chicken pieces back to the pan, adding any of the juices that have accumulated on the plate. Add enough stock to just cover the chicken. Bring to a boil. Add raisins and chickpeas. Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, stirring regularly. Cook until chicken is tender and cooked through, about 30 to 35 minutes.
Add the lemon juice, green olives, coriander and parsley. Continue to simmer for 5 to 10 more minutes.
While the stew is cooking, grill the merguez sausages on a preheated medium high grill. Cook sausages until just cooked through, turning frequently, about 10 to 15 minutes. Cut diagonally, into large slices.
Add sausages slices to stew. Garnish with fresh cilantro and parsley. Serve stew with Couscous with Pistachios, Almonds and Apricots, if desired.
Yield: 6 servings.