When I was thinking of making this dish it started out in my mind as Moroccan-Spiced Chicken Stew with Quince. Until Mike informed me that he doesn’t like quinces, with the too-similar resemblance in flavor and texture they bear to apples (yes, he doesn’t like apples either). So I improvised and added potato and carrot (both Mike-approved) instead. We both enjoyed the end result so it was worth the substitutions I made; Mike said it reminded him of a Kuwaiti dish he used to eat as a child (that he forgot the name of!).
The broth of this dish is really incredible and is actually more like gravy. It’s richly spiced and thick, mostly because of the onion, which just melts into the liquid. The thing about this broth is the longer it simmers, the more the flavors marry and the more delicious it becomes. This is why I used chicken thighs, which stand up better to longer cooking than chicken breasts. Bone-in chicken would also be fantastic here, just be sure to take off the skin, since it adds a tremendous amount of unnecessary fat and would end up rubbery after stewing in this dish.
(Yield: About 4-6 servings)
2 TB olive oil
8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs (about 1 1/3 lb to 1 1/2 lb total weight), trimmed of fat
1 TB all-purpose flour
2 medium-large onions, diced
1 TB ras el hanout*
1/2 tsp turmeric
1 bay leaf
3 c chicken stock
2 medium (about 3/4 to 1 lb) potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
3 medium-large carrots, peeled and cut into 1 to 2-inch pieces
Salt and pepper
Fresh minced parsley (for garnish)
In a large Dutch oven, heat oil over medium-high to high heat. Dredge chicken in flour, then gently shake off any excess; add chicken to hot oil and sear until browned on both sides (about 2-4 minutes per side). Remove chicken from Dutch oven, add onion, turn heat down to medium, and sauté until softened (about 7 minutes), stirring occasionally. Add ras el hanout, turmeric, and bay leaf and sauté until fragrant (about 30 seconds). Add chicken stock and 1/2 tsp salt and use a wooden spoon to scrape any brown bits that have formed on the bottom; add chicken (with juices). Bring to a boil, then turn down to a gentle simmer and cover the Dutch oven, leaving lid slightly ajar. Cook 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add potatoes and carrots, turn heat up and bring back up to a gentle boil, then turn heat down to a simmer and cook about 30 minutes (covered, but with lid slightly ajar) until veggies are tender, stirring occasionally. (You can remove lid for a bit if you want the sauce to thicken more.)
Serve garnished with fresh minced parsley.
A Note on Reheating: Like many stews, this is even better the next day. It thickens quite a bit upon standing, so you may need to add a splash of water before reheating. To reheat, cook over medium-low heat on the stovetop until warm throughout.
*Ras el hanout is a Moroccan spice blend that’s common across the Middle East. You can buy it at Middle Eastern grocery stores, or you can make your own at home. To make approximately 1 TB ras el hanout (which is the amount you will need for this recipe), combine the following spices: 3/4 tsp cumin, 3/4 tsp paprika, 1/4 tsp allspice, 1/4 tsp cinnamon, 1/4 tsp coriander, 1/4 tsp turmeric, 1/4 tsp black pepper, 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper, pinch ground cloves, pinch grated nutmeg, and seeds from 1 cardamom pod (crushed).