This is my first foray into Moroccan cuisine and I am officially hooked. It’s quite different from the West African cuisine I know and love so well but no less fabulous or flavorful. This chicken dish calls for some ingredients that you probably have on hand and some that you may not. And as you scan the ingredient list, you might be thinking “cinnamon…and chicken?!” but just go with it. North African and Mediterranean cuisine is so flavorful and aromatic due, in part, to the delicious spice combinations. Here, turmeric, cumin, cinnamon, and Harissa paste combine with a few other herbs, spices, and root veggies to flavor juicy chicken thighs and are then finished with fresh mint.
I kind of felt my way through making this dish with the loose idea of a chicken tagine in mind and the resolve to use some of the grapefruit I preserved from my parents’ tree a couple of months ago. Not too long ago, I used some of the fresh grapefruit in these cocktails for New Year’s Eve. We have always had fruit-bearing trees in the backyard as I grew up and I’ve planted a Meyer lemon tree in the backyard of my new home, too. Moroccan dishes, especially tagines, sometimes call for preserved lemon so I was hyped to whip out some of the grapefruit and see if it worked just as well. It did. *insert happy dance here*
My friends that have tried this dish didn’t even realize it wasn’t lemon so it’s a good substitute! I followed this tutorial to preserve the grapefruit with just kosher salt and its own juice. I didn’t shake or turn the jars every day, as indicated, and mine turned out well. If you don’t have access to preserved citrus, you can just thinly slice up a couple of lemons (peels included) to capture a similar flavor. As this cooked, my kitchen was filled with the most mouthwatering aromas that I cannot even begin to describe to y’all. Even though it’s a crock pot meal, I was working around the house while the slow cooker did its thing and couldn’t help opening the pot to sniff every once in a while. It smelled good, y’all. It’s also one of those dishes that you don’t feel bad about eating.
While I’m not following a Whole 30 or gluten-free diet, this dish is in line with both of those so I’m very happy to be able to share it with a lot of my friends who are. This is a great all-in-one meal to make for guests or add to your weeknight dinner rotation. You can cook it pretty quickly on a high setting or on the stovetop or set it earlier in the day and let it cook slow and low.
I am happily munching on this Moroccan spiced chicken and potatoes for lunch all week long! Also, do not be intimidated by the ingredient list. You can find all of these things at most any grocery store and the instructions are easy peasy. I mean, it’s a slow cooker recipe after all. 🙂
I have many jars of preserved grapefruit in my pantry from my Christmas Eve preserving kick and I’d love any suggestions for making use of them. Please let me know if you have any in the comments below. Thanks for reading!
Flavorful chicken and potatoes, seasoned in the style of Moroccan tagine and made easily in a slow cooker
- 8 chicken thighs
- 1/2 white onion sliced
- 3 cloves garlic sliced
- 8 potatoes quartered
- 2 preserved lemon or other citrus peels only, rinsed and thinly sliced
- 3 cups chicken broth or water with 1 chicken bouillon cube
- 6 tablespoons Harissa paste I used the spicy variety
- 2 teaspoons turmeric
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 2 teaspoons cumin
- 3 teaspoons dried parsley
- 4 sprigs fresh mint chopped or torn
- black pepper to taste
- sea salt to taste
- olive oil
Cook down onions and garlic with some olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Season chicken thighs with sea salt and black pepper then add to pan (in batches, if necessary) and lightly brown both sides. Remove from heat.
Meanwhile, mix parsley, cumin, turmeric, and cinnamon in a bowl. In the crock of your crock pot, layer 4 chicken thighs with half the garlic and onions, half the dry spice mix, 3 tablespoons Harissa paste, half the potatoes, then half the preserved citrus. Mix to coat everything well then repeat with remaining ingredients.
Add chicken broth or water then cook on high for 3 to 4 hours or low for 6 hours.
Garnish with fresh mint and serve.