One of the reasons I wanted to start a blog was to force me to actually cook some recipes from all the cookbooks I have. In the Internet age, I all too often bookmark a recipe to try and ignore my huge bookshelf full of all sorts of cookbooks: slow-cooker recipes, cuisines from around the world, Julia Child and Anthony Bourdain.
(Do I ever make those Internet recipes I so diligently bookmark? Questionable. Like most people I stick to the same dozen or so basic meals and tend to just make variations on a theme.)
So during my recent furlough/vacation, I resolved to sit down with some of my cookbooks and make notes on which I’d like to cook soon.
I got through 3.5 books in almost 3 weeks.
But this! This is one of the recipes I decided to try. It is from Arabesque by Claudia Roden. I received it as a gift years ago, I’m not exactly sure why I wanted it considering I have never really had
much any Moroccan, Turkish, or Lebanese cuisine. But I remember the flavors and ideas appealing to me then and they still did when I poured through it again last week.
I chose this dish because, well, I had (almost) all the ingredients on hand and it was declared one of the “classics” of Moroccan cooking. Sold. I was actually a little concerned about the spices and the honey, which seemed more like they belonged in a pie than a chicken dinner. But I trusted the recipe, something I don’t always do, and I was richly rewarded. You will be too.
Chicken with Caramelized Onions and Honey (Djaj Bill Assal)Adapted from Arabesque. Makes about 3 servings; takes about an hour start to finish but there is plenty of down time while the onions reduce. Make sure you use a pan that is large enough that you can lay all the chicken pieces out in one layer without crowding the pan. Serve with a couscous salad, perhaps?
- 2 large onions, sliced thin
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- pinch of saffron (I used 1/4 tsp tumuric since I don’t have saffron [yet])
- 1/2 tsp ground ginger
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 lb chicken thighs (I used boneless skinless)
- 1 tbsp honey
- S&P (heavy on the pepper)
- Heat the oil in the pan over medium-low heat, add the onions and begin to cook them. Don’t rush this by turning up the heat! Once they are starting to turn golden, add the spices and a bit of S&P. Partially cover the pan and cook the onions, stirring occasionally, until the onions become caramel-colored and reduced, about 25 minutes.
- Move the onions to the sides of the pan and add the chicken. Cook, partially covered for about 10 minutes. Flip and cook through, 5-8 minutes more.
- Move the chicken to a serving dish. Stir the honey into the onions and sauce. Taste, add a liberal sprinkling of fresh cracked pepper to assuage the sweetness. Spoon over the chicken and serve.