There is something so comforting about Moroccan food. Even though it is certainly on the more exotic side, I find it to be extremely approachable, and appealing to even pickier eaters in the fam. Most dishes have easily recognizable ingredients, readily available in the grocery store spice aisle. I like to make this warming dish when the air starts to cool a bit, and thoughts turn to winter squash and gourds. Serve it with plain pearl couscous as noted in the recipe- or pita, or a good loaf of crusty artisan bread, all of which will soak up the sweet brothy juices. The use of prunes might seem unusual, but they melt into the stew giving it a depth of flavor and add sweetness. You could substitute raisins if you like. Worth noting, I’ve also made this using a shortcut step – I used store-bought rotisserie chicken and shredded it into the stew at the end. Perfectly acceptable… and still perfectly delicious.
Moroccan Chicken Stew with Pearl Couscous
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 small yellow onion chopped
- 4 cloves garlic chopped
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 tablespoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
- ½ teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 small butternut squash peeled, seeded and cubed, or use 2 medium sweet potatoes
- 2 bone-in skinless chicken breasts or if you like dark meat use thighs and legs
- 2 cups chicken stock
- ½ cup pitted prunes halved
- ¼ cup pitted black olives preferably oil-cured, or kalamata
- ¼ cup chopped parsley for garnish
- Couscous for serving
- In a large saucepan, warm the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and saute, about 8-10 minutes until softened. Meanwhile, place the garlic and spices (cinnamon through salt) in a small bowl. When the onions are soft, dump in the garlic and spices and cook for a minute.
- Add the chicken and cook a few minutes, turning. If the onions and spices start to stick, pour in the broth and scrape up the bottom. If not, then just pour it in after the chicken has been cooking a few minutes per side. Partially cover, turn heat to low, and let it simmer until the chicken is just cooked through, about 15 minutes. While the stew is simmering, make the couscous according to package directions.
- Remove the chicken and place on a plate. When cool enough to handle, shred the meat and add it back to the pot with the squash, prunes, and olives. Cook another 12-15 minutes over gentle heat until the squash is cooked through. Taste for seasoning and add more salt and pepper if necessary. Ladle into bowls and add the herbs, serving with couscous or bread if desired.