Recently, I came across this tattered recipe for Moroccan Chicken in a recipe folder. The recipe was from my friend Carol who was also my neighbor, living a few floors below us in the same high-rise on West 14th Street in New York City. It was one of the first things I learned to make when I started cooking.
This was long before the days when we were exposed to real Moroccan food, so today, we’d just say it’s loosely “inspired” by Moroccan cuisine. Nonetheless, it’s a great meal for company on a busy weeknight, since the chicken is marinated the night before and only needs to be floured, browned and popped into the oven to bake unattended while you set the table and tidy the house. Serve it with instant couscous, another quick-to-fix dish.
Do not use fresh orange juice for this dish. While fresh is usually best, frozen works better here because the flavor is more intense, making for a better-tasting orange sauce. Just reconstitute frozen orange juice as if you were drinking it.
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In a medium bowl or in a large measuring cup, combine orange juice, cumin, cinnamon, ¾ teaspoon salt, cayenne and garlic. Put chicken breasts into a heavy-duty, zip-top plastic bag (gallon size) and carefully pour orange juice mixture into the bag; seal tight. Place the bag in a bowl to catch any drips and marinate about 12 hours or overnight. Turn the bag a few times during marinating to disperse marinade.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Remove chicken from the marinade, reserving marinade for sauce. Pat chicken dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper. Put flour in a plate and dip chicken in flour to lightly coat all sides. In a large skillet over medium heat, heat butter and oil and add chicken, browning each side until golden. Cook in batches to keep from overcrowding.
Transfer chicken in a single layer into a 10- X 12-inch non-reactive baking pan (ceramic, glass, enamel, stainless steel; not aluminum). Pour the orange marinade over the chicken. Scatter with olives, raisins and almonds. Cover pan tightly with foil and bake for about 40 minutes. To test for doneness, remove the thickest breast and poke a paring knife into the thickest part. If juices run clear the chicken is done. Makes 6 servings.
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