Martha made Moroccan-Spiced Chicken with Olive, Apricot, and Pistachio Couscous on her show, on Thursday (Jan 22). These recipes are also the February What’s for Dinner in Martha Stewart Living, along with Minted Carrots.
I’ve made Moroccan chicken in the past (slightly different) and have always served it with a yogurt sauce, so this was a slight departure. We had Moroccan chicken at Epcot and also something very similar at an Afghani restaurant in NYC (which may have been the best chicken I’ve ever eaten).
First of all, we cut up the chicken the way Martha did on the show. Mr. MarthaAndMe went in boldly with the kitchen shears and I have to say, Martha’s method was a lot easier than the method they showed when they did the cooking school episode about this. The shears are an easy way to go and I would definitely use this method again to cut up a whole chicken. It was not nearly as unpleasant as the other method.
Next I mixed up the spices and oil and got the oven and pan hot. I spread it over the chicken, popped it in the oven and got going with everything else.
The carrots get roasted in the oven also. I have to say that roasting vegetables is my new favorite method and this was easy to do. While that was cooking, I started the couscous. On the show, Martha made her couscous plain and added the additional ingredients after it was cooked, so I did it that way too, even though the recipe says to add the apricots to the couscous while it is cooking (mini-Martha likes his couscous plain, so I wanted to have some plain for him).
Now, as I am cooking all of this, the kitchen is filling with smoke. It is just pouring out of the closed oven. The chicken is supposed to cook at 425 for 30-35 minutes. I was at about 40 minutes and it wasn’t done, but my kitchen had become a danger zone. I had had on the exhaust fan the entire time, but it wasn’t doing the trick. I opened every single window in the kitchen, the back door and the window in the attached bath, as well as cracking the sliding glass door in the dining room. It was still horrendously smoky – and we were freezing since it was about 19 degrees outside. I was just about at the point where I was going to have to take it out no matter what when finally, it was done and I let it rest.
I turned off the oven and the smoke started to clear out, but slowly. This was seriously a pretty dangerous situation. Maybe in Martha’s test kitchens they have heavy duty exhaust fans, but I really don’t recommend cooking this at this temperature in a home.
Now for the results. The carrots were great. They are just roasted with some olive oil and sprinkled with salt and pepper. When you dish them up, you add some thinly sliced mint. Total thumbs up on this dish. I loved the mint.
Next up, the couscous. I am a fan of couscous, so I was excited about this. I did not add the olives, since no one in my house
will eat them. I did like the apricots and pistachios in the dish. I felt the pistachios were not a very strong flavor though and hard to detect. Like an idiot, I forgot to add the lemon juice to this and that would have really given it a little kick which it needed, because it was kind of dry and flavorless.
Now for the chicken. It came out of the oven looking great, don’t you think? Very brown and lovely. I threw lemons on the baking sheet with it and they cooked up well too. As for taste – sigh. It didn’t wow me. Here’s the thing – I do not like fatty, mushy chicken skin. I love chicken skin if it is crisp and does not have nasty fat all over the back of it, so I removed the skin from my piece since it wasn’t anything resembling crisp. The chicken underneath tasted like, well like chicken. Not a lot of flavor there. I was taking my bite size pieces of chicken and rubbing them over the skin to pick up the spices, and also rubbing them over the roasted lemons to get some flavor. That did help and the spice combination was a nice one, as was the lemon flavor. The best way to eat this is with chicken and couscous on your fork together. I think I should have followed my first instinct, which was to use boneless, skinless breasts and cover them with the seasoning and cook them in the oven. Less smoke, more flavor and just easier.
If I made this again, I would marinate the chicken in the oil and spices for quite a while – maybe overnight. The flavors did not soak into the chicken at all and it really needed to. If they had, this might have been fantastic.
I love reading your blog! I watch the success you have with Martha’s recipes as a way to determine whether I will go ahead and make the recipe myself. If it’s a disaster (those tuiles were horrible!) then I pass. If it looks good “in real life” and your review is good, then I make it. Good job!
I’m sorry you didn’t end up liking this one. I’ve made it a few times (making it again tonight, which is how I ended up on your blog – needed to look up the recipe and saw your comment and got curious). Every time I’ve done it, the skin crisps up really nicely and it doesn’t smoke. I wonder if your oven isn’t holding the right temperature or something. The best time I had with this was making it with chicken thighs, and made sure to rub the spice rub all over – on the exposed meat and on the skin, that way it was nice and tasty. It’s become a family favorite, so I’d say try it again if you liked the spice mix. 🙂
I love Moroccan food – though I’ve never made Moroccan chicken. Will have to try something similar.