205 – Moroccan Chicken Vermicelli (Seffa Medfouna)
- 2 pounds (1 kg) of chicken drumsticks
- 1 pound (500 grams) onions (grated)
- 1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro
- 1/4 cup finely chopped parsley
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, 1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric, a pinch of saffron threads
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1/2 teaspoon smen (ghee / clarified butter)
- Water to cook the chicken.
- Blanched almonds
- Dates, raisins, and walnuts
- 1 pound (500 grams) of Italian vermicelli (very fine pasta)
- Water + salt
Step 1: Making the Chicken
1- In a pot, drizzle the olive oil and vegetable oil. Add the grated onions, chicken spices, cinnamon sticks, and the chicken. Mix all the ingredients together using a wooden spoon.
2- Cover the pot and cook the chicken on medium heat for 5 minutes. Stir the chicken from time to time.
3- After 5 minutes, add the finely chopped parsley and cilantro as well as the smen (ghee). Make sure to adjust the amounto salt you are using in this dish to the saltiness of the ghee you are using. Otherwise, the chicken may become too salty.
4- Mix all the ingredients and add a little bit of water, just enough to cover half the height of the chicken.
5- Cover the pot, increase the heat to medium-high, and let the chicken cook until done.
6- From time to time, check on the chicken, stir it, and add water if necessary. The water should be covering half the height of the chicken until the chicken is cooked.
7- The chicken should be done within 30-40 minutes. Taste the chicken, it should be soft.
8- Remove the chicken from the pot and place it in a bowl.
9- Uncover the pot, increase the heat to high, and let the sauce cook for 10 minutes until the liquids evaporate and the sauce becomes thick and silky.
10- Once the sauce has reduced, turn off the heat, bring back the chicken to the pot, cover and keep it there until ready to serve the dish.
Step 2: Preparing the Dried Fruits
1- You can use any dried fruits of your choice, in the amounds your want or just skip them.
2- Soak the dates and the raisins in two separate bowls filled with warm water at least 30 minutes before using them.
3- To blanch almonds, just place whole almonds in boiling water for 5 minutes, then rinse them and rub them using a towel. The skin of the almonds will easily be removed.
4- First, we are going to fry the almonds. In a flat pan heat vegetable oil. When the oil is hot, place the blanched almonds in the hot oil and fry until the almonds get a nice golden brown color.
5- Once done, remove the almonds from oil and place them in a plate covered with paper towel to absorb any excell oil.
6- Optional: Take some of the fried almonds and mix, using a food processor, with a bit of orange blossom water and powdered sugar.
7- Steam the raisins and pitted dates separately for 10-15 minutes until they soften up.
Step 3: Steaming the Vermicelli
1- To steam the vermicelli, I am going to use my couscous pot. However, feel free to use your regular steamer.
2- Fill the bottom of the couscous pot with water and add 1/2 lemon.
3- Take 2 tablespoons of the oil where your fried the almonds (or just regular vegetable oil) and using your hand, mix it gently with the vermicelli until it is completely coated with the oil.
4- Place the vermicelli in the top portion of the couscous pot, cover, and steam on medium-high heat until you see the first steam coming out from the vermicelli. This will take around 15-20 minutes.
5- Remove the vermicelli from the top part of the couscous pot, and place in a large plate. Add 1/2 cup of salted water to the vermicelli, mix with your hands, and let the vermicelli rest for about 5 minutes.
6- Return the vermicelli to the couscous pot and steam again until you see the steam coming out from the vermicelli (this will take around 10 minutes). Note that while the vermicelli was resting, leave the fire on the bottom part of the couscous pot filled with water.
7- Check the vermicelli. If it is not ready, you may have to steam it for a 3rd time. Remove it from the couscous pot, place in a plate, and add a bit of water (not salted this time, if the vermicelli is salty enough). Let it rest for 5 minutes and place back in the couscous pot. Steam for 5-10 minutes until done but make sure not to overcook it, otherwise, it becomes too soft.
8- When the vermicelli is ready, place it in a large plate and fluff it (using forks) with a little bit of butter.
Step 3: Final Steps
1- In general prepare the chicken the dried fruits in advance, and the vermicelli just right before serving the dish. Heat the chicken if necessary.
2- To plate the dish first mix the hot vermicelli with the steamed raisins.
3- In a large plate, place a layer of vermicelli. Put the chicken on top of the vermicelli and cover it with the thick sauce.
4- Cover the chicken with the rest of the vermicelli into a dome shape.
5- Optional: Place the ground almonds (with powdered sugar and orange blossom water) at the top of the dome.
6- Decorate with the almonds, walnuts, and dates.