Moroccan Apricot Chicken [Dairy free, Gluten free, Grains free, Paleo, Sugar free]
I’ve been experimenting with north African and Middle Eastern spices recently, favouring Duqqah and Za’taar especially. Mixing the powdered spices with guidelines from various recipes, and adjusting the blends as I favour them has been especially appealing, and rewarding too. Mixing the home blend of the Moroccan spice that is used in this recipe has been no different – made with pure spice powders, I indeed know and trust that this is a clean, no sugar or wheat added north African spice blend.
This recipe presents and tastes beautifully exotic, and that it’s a one pot meal, which is relatively quick to prepare, makes this a desirous option for those who opt for a dish that is different from bland boring chicken and, especially for those who want to indulge in gastronomic delights from different countries.
While cooking this meal in a tagine may be a better option for some, my tagine wasn’t big enough for the amount that this recipe presents. I opted for my ceramic based oven proof casserole pot. I found it practical as the recipe begins on the stove top, then uses the oven to slow cook the chicken to perfection and thicken the apricot sauce beautifully. Cast oven cookware will work too, as will a regular casserole dish covered with aluminium foil.
As the recipe indicates, this is an easy make. The spice blend may be adjusted to suit individual palates, but I recommended using this easy mix in the method below. While fresh, ripe apricots are desirable for the sauce, the alternative of sugar free dried apricots worked very well, mixed with the spice blend for maximum flavour absorption in the chicken.
A flavoursome and exotic tasting dish indeed!
800g chicken thighs and/or drumsticks, skin on if preferred
2 tblsp ghee OR 3 tblsp extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, roughly chopped
2 tsp garlic paste of minced fresh garlic
300-400g dried apricots, sugar free
1-2 tblsp *Moroccan spice
2 cups chicken stock (home made, sugar free)
3 bay leaves
Himalayan / Sea Salt to taste
*For the Moroccan spice, blend together the powdered spices below until they are well combined. The powdered spices may be adjusted to suit individual palates. This blend makes 5 tablespoons of Moroccan spice.
½ tsp Allspice or mixed spice powder
¾ tsp black pepper, freshly milled
½ tsp cayenne pepper OR 1 tsp paprika powder
½ tsp cinnamon powder
¼ tsp clove powder
½ tsp coriander powder
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp ginger powder
1 tsp fine Himalayan / Sea Salt
Optional: a pinch of tumeric powder
- If necessary, and especially if using dried apricots, soak them in just enough warm water to cover them, for about half an hour before preparing this dish.
- Preheat a conventional oven to 180° celsius
- Add the fat of choice to an oven proof casserole pot with a lid on medium-high stove top heat.
- Once the oil has heated, add in the chopped onions and garlic and saute until the onion is soft and translucent.
- Add in the chicken pieces and brown them for about 3-4 minutes on each side. (In my first make, I browned the chicken pieces separately in a non-stick pan and added them to the softened onion)
- While the chicken browns, add the apricots with the water into a blender, with the Moroccan spice and blend it well until a smooth, thick paste / sauce forms.
- Once the chicken has browned, add the apricot and spice mixture into the pot and using a wooden spoon, stir the chicken and apricot mix to combine them well.
- Now add in the chicken stock and bay leaves. You may wish to taste for the salt balance and adjust accordingly.
- Cover the oven proof pot with its lid (if using a casserole dish, empty the contents from the pot into the dish and seal the dish with aluminium foil) and place it in the preheated oven.
- Allow the chicken and sauce to bake for an hour, then carefully remove the lid or aluminium foil and bake uncovered for another 10 minutes.
- The chicken will now be very tender and the sauce will have thickened.
- Remove from the oven, discard the bay leaves, and serve as preferred – cauliflower rice or cauliflower mash partners excellently with this amazingly exotic tasting chicken meal.