Thursday, August 18, 2011

Moroccan-Spiced Chicken

Sometimes chicken goes on sale for $.98 per pound, and I can't resist buying a huge pack. I mean, four really large breasts for a mere $3.18... I'd be a fool to pass it up. The only issue I have with chicken breasts at this price is that - you guessed it - there are bones... and skin. As embarrassing as it is to admit, I don't know much about meat with bones inside. I can eat it just fine (I'm not a total snob), but cooking it doesn't come easily. My method for dealing with this hazard is to simply find a recipe which specifies bone-in meat and follow the directions. Otherwise, I figure I'm setting myself up for disaster. Moroccan spiced chicken from Martha Stewart is just the fix for a "chicken sale dinner." I first had this when my sister-in-law Shannon made it, and I was happy to hear its preparation was straightforward. So stop fearing the meat that's on sale, and dive in... bones and all.
Moroccan-Spiced Chicken

1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground coriander
1/2 tsp. ground turmeric
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp. ground cardamom
1/4 tsp. ground cumin
2 tsp. coarse salt
3/4 tsp. freshly ground pepper
2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 whole chicken, quartered, skin on (I used all breasts)
1 lemon, quartered

Place rimmed baking pan on center oven rack, and preheat to 450 degrees.

Mix seasonings and olive oil in a small bowl, and rub spice paste all over chicken. Carefully arrange chicken on hot pan, and place lemon wedges around chicken.

Bake until 165 degrees on instant-read thermometer and juices run clear, 30-35 minutes. Let meat stand 10 minutes, and serve with pan juices and lemon wedges on the side.

Korintje Cinnamon from the Pampered Pantry is amazing, and it lasts forever! I seriously love this stuff, but I've rambled in other posts and will refrain from doing so here. Behind the cinnamon, I have the Bamboo Grinder Set full of Salt and Pepper from the pantry line. I can't season with any other salt and pepper now that I've tasted the difference these make in my cooking. Plus, the grinders are just cool.

I'm combining all of my spices in a 1-cup Prep Bowl using an Adjustable Measuring Spoon and a standard Measuring Spoon. This recipe calls for a few things I don't use very often, so it's always fun to pull them out and feel they weren't a waste of money. Turmeric, coriander, and cardamom will get great use if you give them a chance. Just look up recipes that call for them, and prepare to be amazed!

Spice paste - yum! The Easy Read Mini Measuring Cup and the Mini Mix 'n Scraper are cool because they each have "mini" in their names. The scraper is perfect for this job because it's got enough spoonness to it to tip paste for me because my hands are about to get nasty... and I mean nasty. I've got my standard Cutting Board and my Large Grooved Cutting Board out because I don't want any of this grossness getting on my stove, AKA: counter space because my kitchen is super tiny. I love that I can sling raw chicken all over the place and just throw these boards in the dishwasher when I'm finished.

I had to get one really solid picture of the raw meat to prove that yes, I owned it big time. Notice the groove on the Large Grooved Cutting Board. It's great for meats because it keeps their juices from dripping onto counters, etc. It's even deep enough to slice a watermelon without any leakage. I used the 5" Santoku from the Forged Cutlery Collection to slice a couple of lemons, and then I remembered the Veggie Wedger. I've got to use that thing more often because it's amazing! Oh, well... so is this knife.

Give the meat a good coating of spice paste because it makes a huge difference once it's cooked. There's plenty to go around, so don't skimp. If you're feeling crazy, get some of it under the skin, too. Throw a few lemons in the pan, and you're good to go. I'm using the Large Bar Pan, my favorite Stoneware piece for large quantities of meat, vegetables, or whatever else goes in the oven. I'm just going to warn you this recipe gets a bit smoky, so you might want to turn on the kitchen fan. Isn't great chicken worth a little smoke?

165 degrees: The point when poultry is safe to eat. It's also the point where it's perfectly tender and juicy. In other words, use a Pocket Thermometer when cooking chicken. Stoneware combined with this thermometer are my secret weapons with any meat I prepare. The recipe says this chicken needs to bake 30-35 minutes, but I used all breasts, which took closer to 40 minutes. If I hadn't had a thermometer, I'd have grabbed the pan from the oven every couple of minutes after 30 (the 450 degree oven, mind you), sliced into a piece of meat, and tried to figure out how much longer it needed. Imagine doing that for dinner guests. How does the presentation look if the meat is all cut open? Besides, you lose all the juice, which means goodbye, moist chicken. Meat on sale isn't much of a victory if you dry it out.

Prepare a little couscous, throw this on top, and imagine you're in Morocco. Enjoy the least expensive Moroccan experience you'll ever have, especially if you catch that $.98 sale!

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