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 Simply Recipes., based on recipes from
Published Jan 22, 2010
- 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
- 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
Enough for approximately 16 servings.
Preparation and cooking time is approximately 2 hours
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. 🙂