Moroccan Chicken with Lemon Marinade (Mkalli M'hammer)
- Prep Time: 30 minutes (+ at least 1 hour marinating time)
- Cook Time: 1 hour
- Bake Time: 5 minutes
- Serves: 4
- Complexity: medium
- 3.5 pounds (1.5 kg) whole chicken
- Marinade Spices: 1/2 tsp salt, 2 tsp ground ginger, 1/4 tsp black pepper, 1/4 tsp ground turmeric, and a pinch of saffron
- Marinade Other: 4 garlic cloves (crushed), 1/4 preserved lemon pulp (or replace with 2 tbsp lemon juice), 2 tbsp olive oil
- Chicken Sauce: 1 small onion grated, 3 garlic cloves (crushed), a small bunch of cilantro
- Chicken Sauce: 2 tbsp olive oil
- Chicken Sauce: 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp ground ginger, 1/4 tsp black pepper, 1/4 tsp ground turmeric
- Caramelized Onions: 3 large onions (grated)
- Caramelized Onions: 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp ground ginger, 1/4 tsp black pepper, 1/4 tsp ground turmeric
- Dijon Mustard Coating: 1 tsp dijon mustard, 2 tbsp vegetable oil
- Washing the chicken: warm water, 1/3 cup lemon juice, salt
- Step 1: Marinating the Chicken
* First, place the chicken in a large bowl filled with warm water. Add 1/3 cup of fresh lemon juice to the water. Wash the chicken in this water and use salt to rub the chicken all over, while washing it with the lemony water. Place the chicken in a sieve over a bowl and let it drain.
* While the chicken is draining, prepare the mardinate. In a bowl, put together the marinade spices, the crushed garlic cloves, and the preserved lemon pulp chopped into a smooth paste with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and a little bit of water. Mix well with a fork.
* Place the chicken in a large bowl and rub it with the marinade. Make sure to cover the entire chicken and also pour some marinade in between the skin and the meat.
* Cover the bowl with a plastic wrap, and let the chicken marinate in the fridge for at least 1 hour. Ideally, it should marinate overnight so that the chicken absorbs all the spices and the meat becomes tender.
Tip: You can actually wrap the chicken with a plastic wrap and foil, and freeze it. All you have to do is thaw the chicken the day you want to cook it and proceed as described below!
- Step 2: Cooking the Chicken
* After the chicken marinates, remove it from the bown and tuss it (either using a thread or without). The goal is to make the chicken compact so that it cooks evenly. If you dont have a thread, just make a whole in of the membranes in the rear of the chicken, inster the leg accross the memebrane in the whole, then push the other leg inbetween the first leg and the chicken body (similar to a Lotus yoga pose). You can also pin the wings to the body using a tooth pick.
* In a large pot, add 2 tablespoons of olive oil, 1 onion (grated), and the sauce spices (salt, ground ginger, ground turmeric, black pepper, and saffron threads - saffron is optional). Cook for 3 minutes on medium heat.
* Place the chicken in the pot, cover, and cook for 5 minutes. Turn the chicken around, and cook the other side, covered, for another 5 minutes.
* After cooking the chicken on both sides 5 minutes each, turn the chicken so that the chicken breast is at the bottom of the pot, because chicken breast takes longer to cook. Add the cilantro to the pot, add 1 cup water (or enough water to cover half the chicken), cover the pot, and cook on medium heat, covered, for 25-30 minutes.
* Turn the chicken to the other side, and cook covered for another 25 minutes. The cooking time will depend on how long the chicken was set to marinate. The longer it was marinating, the softer the chicken will be, and the less cooking time required.
Note: check on the level of water from time to time and add if necessary - just enough for the chicken to be cooking in liquid and not burn. You many not need to add water.
- Step 3: Making the Caramelized Onions
* While the chicken is cooking, in a separate sauce pan, pour 2 tablespoon of olive oil. Add 3 large onions (chopped) and the spices (salt, ground ginger, ground turmeric, and black pepper).
* Take 1/2 cup of sauce where the chicken is cooking and add it to the onions.
* Mix well. Cook the onions on low heat for 45-50 minutes until they become soft and smooth. When you taste them, they should not have a 'raw' taste and should taste cooked. Stir the onions from time to time so they dont burn.
Step 4: Reducing the Chicken Sauce
* When the chicken is done, remove it and place it in a baking pan.
* Remove the cilantro from the sauce, increase the heat to medium-high, and cook the sauce for 10 minutes or so, uncovered, so that the liquids evaporate and the sauce is reduced. It should become thick.
- Step 5: Roasting the Chicken
* Place the chicken in a baking pan (from step 4).
* Brush the chicken with a 'dijon mustard' mixture, where you mix 1 teaspoon of dijon mustard with 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil. This will give the chicken a beautiful color and more flavor!
* Broil the chicken in the oven for 3-4 minutes until it gets a deep brown color.
Step 6: Serving the Chicken
* One the chicken is roasted, place it in a large plate.
* Pour the hot thick chicken sauce on top and around.
* Place the hot caramelized onions on top of the chicken and around.
* Serve immediately with Moroccan bread or crusty bread (e.g. French baguette).