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Recipe: Moroccan Chicken with Rice

Let’s take a break from the tech talk, and I’ll share a recipe with you. No, not a programming recipe, but the food kind. Yes, sometimes I cook. I generally like cooking, though I’m not so fond of cleaning up the mess afterward. Recently, we had some split chicken breasts that we needed to cook up. I thought about just doing a standard baked chicken, but I wanted something a little. different. After perusing a selection of chicken recipes on SimplyRecipes.com, and reviewing the ingredients we had on hand, I decided to try combining ideas from two different recipes: Moroccan Chicken with Lemon and Olives and Chicken and Rice Casserole.

In our case, I was cooking for seven people (myself, my wife, her parents, and our three kids). We had two family packs of chicken breasts (4 split breasts per pack, at about a pound per breast), so I knew I was going to have to adjust some measurements. I had to make some best-guess changes based on the amount of chicken I was cooking, and the ingredients I had available. First, here’s the recipe as I actually prepared it, and afterwards I’ll discuss what changes I’ll probably make next time we make this dish.

Moroccan Chicken with Rice

A chicken and rice casserole with a Moroccan flair.

Created by Dougal Campbell, based on recipes from Simply Recipes.

Published Jan 22, 2010

Ingredients

  • 8 split chicken breasts (approx 1 pound each).
  • 4 tsp paprika
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 2 tsp ginger
  • 2 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 cup Italian seasoned bread crumbs
  • 6 Tbsp olive oil
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup dried peaches, chopped
  • 2 lemons
  • 1 cup olives (pitted)
  • 3 cups rice
  • 5 cups water
  • 1 cup red wine

Instructions

  • Coat a large baking dish (4 quarts, 10.5″ by 14.75″) with 2 Tbsp of olive oil.
  • Put the rice, water, and olives into the baking dish, then set aside.
  • Mix the dry spices and bread crumbs together in a large bowl.
  • Heat 4 Tbsp of olive oil in a large skillet on medium-high heat.
  • Pat each chicken breast dry, then coat them in the spice mixture.
  • Brown each breast in the skillet, about 5 minutes on each side (just brown them, you aren’t trying to cook through), then arrange the breasts on top of the rice in the baking dish.
  • Slice lemons thinly, and place lemon slices on top of the chicken breasts.
  • Reduce the skillet heat to medium, then saute the chopped onion until translucent, about 3 minutes (add more olive oil, if necessary).
  • Add the minced garlic to the skillet, and saute about another minute.
  • Add the red wine to the skillet, and stir until the wine reduces down almost completely.
  • Spoon onion mixture over the chicken breasts evenly.
  • Bake at 375F for about 50 – 60 minutes

Further details

Enough for approximately 16 servings.

Preparation and cooking time is approximately 2 hours

This recipe is and . Even our kids liked it, though they picked out the olives. We served it with a side of steamed broccoli.

As prepared above, it came out quite good. The onion mixture baked into a sort of crispy topping with a pretty good flavor. The spices from the chicken seeped into the rice, giving it a pretty yellow tint and a subtle, exotic flavor. However, when we cook this again, I’ll probably make some adjustments.

The original Moroccan recipe that I based much of this on called for raisins, but we didn’t have any in our pantry. I figured that the sweetness of the raisins was supposed to balance out some of the sharper flavors from the lemon, ginger, and olives, so I substituted the dried peaches (that being the closest thing we had). But I think the peaches were a little too sweet, so next time, we’ll use raisins (about a cup would be right for the above measurements).

Also, I only cooked so much because we already had those family packs of chicken thawed out, and we needed to go ahead and get them cooked up. I could only fit six of the breasts in the baking dish, and I ended up cooking the other two in my skillet, with some water added. I think it might be interesting to repurpose the leftover chicken, perhaps as an exotically spiced chicken salad. Next time, I’ll probably cook a more appropriate amount, and I’ll probably start with skinless, boneless chicken breasts, and cut them up into bite-sized chunks before spicing and braising them.

I also didn’t have enough olives on hand. I used a mixture of some large green olives and kalamata olives, and only had about a cup. I would have liked about twice that amount. Also, the original recipe left the olives whole, but I sliced mine in half, lengthwise, just so they’d distribute better.

I think in the next iteration, I’ll probably leave out the red wine, and I might skip the lemons. I added the wine on a whim, just because it was in the fridge, but I think it detracted from the flavor of the caramelized onions. The lemons were okay, but in places where the peel cooked on the chicken meat, it tended to be slightly bitter. However, I might consider marinating the chicken in a little bit of olive oil mixed with lemon juice.

All-in-all, this dish was a success, and I think there is potential for lots of tweaking. One last change I might make would be to cover the dish with foil before baking. The rice was just a little dry on top after baking (though not annoyingly so), and the foil would help keep steam in. I’m also thinking that toasted, slivered almonds might be a nice addition to the rice.

Sound good? What do you think? Should I post more recipes?

Oh, and this article isn’t completely without a tech factor: I marked up the recipe with the experimental hRecipe microformat. 🙂

About Dougal Campbell

Dougal is a web developer, and a "Developer Emeritus" for the WordPress platform. When he's not coding PHP, Perl, CSS, JavaScript, or whatnot, he spends time with his wife, three children, a dog, and a cat in their Atlanta area home.
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19 Responses to Recipe: Moroccan Chicken with Rice

  1. Pradeep says:

    what is hrecipe microformat?

    • Phill says:

      Hi Pradeep, I think I’m right in saying that a microformat is a way to communicate meaningful data via technology – so the hrecipe microformat let’s ‘robots’ know that the information contained in this webpage is in fact a recipe.

      Hope this helps.

      • Dougal says:

        Right,

        A microformat is extra information added to the HTML so that meaningful information can be extracted from the page in an automated manner.

        For example, it would be possible for someone to build a tool (e.g., a search engine, or a recipe database program) that can look at this page, and know which bits are the ingredients and measurements, which bits are the preparation instructions, cooking time, author, etc.

        There are other microformats for other types of information. A lot of websites mark up contact information using the hCard microformat, and there are tools that will let you automatically add an entry to your addressbook.

  2. Phill says:

    I’m not very familiar with moroccan recipes but those ingredients look very indian – I wonder what it is that makes it typically moroccan? Perhaps the fruit? Either way this looks like a great recipe and certainly one that I’ll be trying out.

    P.S. I’m with in terms of the cleaning up afterwards!

    • Dougal says:

      Well, I think the cumin and paprika are pretty common in Moroccan (and other Eastern Mediterranean) cooking, though they can appear in Indian dishes. But the olives probably aren’t too common in Indian food, at least not in my experience (I think I’ve seen raisins, but I can’t remember for sure).

      • Ginger and cinnamon are key flavours of Morrocan, plus (preserved) lemons. I only came to the blog to read techy stuff, but love my food, especially Morrocan.

        Would like to say that using chicken on the bone would be worth trying as an alternative to breasts, and using lamb would work here too.

        Nice recipie!

  3. Sarcina says:

    To many ingredients and some of them are pretty hard to find. I served this once in a restaurant, and like all the oriental food, it’s better than “tasty” or “delicious” 🙂

  4. Alex says:

    Sounds great. Love that you did a left turn from the usual fare on the menu of your blog. In response to the comment above, which ingredients are hard to find? I guess it depends where you are. In California, you can find all the above ingredients without any trouble.

  5. Karen says:

    Funny people say this is too many ingredients! For a moroccan-flavored dish, the ingredients list looks pretty standard to me. And, I have to say, awesome. I’d probably sub dried apricots for the peaches, though, just because they’re a heck of a lot easier to find (I live in Spain, so some things are hard to find.) But none of this is difficult stuff– for a flavorful dinner menu, this doesn’t sound like too much work. Must add to my list!

    I visit a lot but was excited to see a recipe on here! Cooking’s my thing. 🙂

  6. Michaela says:

    Great recipe! I’ll have to try this one out at home!

  7. Anything Moroccan is delicious in my book. My first attempt to make a Moroccan dish fell a little short of what I was expecting. It didn’t taste anything like the one I had in Marrakech but will try again when I have the time. Next time you make Morrocan chicken with rice, take some photos. Photos about food always look great in blogs.

  8. I’m so intrigued by the dried peaches in here. Mixed with the tang of the lemons and salt of the olives, they would create a really nice balance. Looking forward to trying this.

  9. Sweta says:

    When I had a homestay in Morocco, my host family always used to make this dish. After returning back to my country, I longed for this dish .. I am happy to have found this recipe on your site. Thanks a ton for sharing.

  10. Tracy says:

    This looks absolutely amazing! Lately I have really been into making dishes from India, Morroco, etc. There are no restaurants around me that makes this food so it is up to me to find the recipes and try them out.

  11. I need to say thank you for the recipe. I am looking out for something new for my today’s dinner and i found it. I will try it and i hope it will come out yummy because i am not a good chef.

  12. ben says:

    quite possibly a stupid question, but what are you supposed to do with the thinly sliced lemon after cooking?  Do you remove them before serving or is it ok to eat them? (bearing in mind that your generally not supposed to eat the rind/pith)

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