Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Spiced Grilled Chicken (Djej Mechoui)

 Hello again, my Moroccan cookbook. I feel it's been a long time since I spent any time with you (though I am sure my Indian cookbook feels an even greater loss) but I am back and I am glad you openly accept me.

Ha, look at me trying to be funny - and failing. That's what happens when you write a post after a few glasses of wine: suddenly humor seems like a good idea while the ability to pull it off is severely dampened with each passing sip. Anyway, grilled chicken, Moroccan style, which means paprika, cumin and cayenne, along with hints of lemon juice and olive oil. Nothing flashy, just nicely spiced chicken with some dandy (yes, dandy!) grilled lemons to eat alongside. Mmm, grilled lemons.

Depending on the saltiness of your salt you may need more. The recipe calls for watercress when serving the chicken; I served a salad. Enjoy!

Spiced Grilled Chicken
The Food of Morocco

2lb chicken, cut into quarters
pinch of saffron threads
1tsp coarse salt
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 1/2tsp paprika
1/4tsp cayenne pepper
2tsp ground cumin
1/2tsp freshly ground black pepper
1tbsp lemon juice
1tbsp olive oil
2 lemons
2tbsp confectioners' sugar, sifted
watercress, to serve

1. Cut deep slashes diagonally in each chicken breast and the legs.

2. Put the saffron in a mortar with the salt and pound with a pestle to pulverize the threads. Add the garlic and pound to a paste. Work in the paprika, cayenne pepper, cumin, black pepper, lemon juice and olive oil. Rub the spice mix into the chicken, rubbing it into the slashes. Cover and marinate in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours or overnight. Bring the chicken to room temperature 1 hour before cooking.

3. On the grill, place chicken skin side (marinade side) up. Cook over for 20 minutes, continually turning the chicken as it cooks and brushing with any remaining marinade (I none remaining, but you may be different.) The chicken is cooked is juices run clear when pierced. Cooking time can be shortened on a grill if a roasting tin is inverted over the chicken to act as a mini oven. Transfer the chicken to a platter, cover with a foil tent and leave to rest for 5 minutes before serving.

4. Quarter the lemons and dip the cut surfaces in the sifted confectioners' sugar. Place on grill. Cook briefly on the cut surfaces until golden and caramelized. Serve the chicken with the grilled lemons and watercress.

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