Moroccan-Inspired Chicken and Tomato Stew
One of the things we want to do here at I’d Rather Be Meryl is help you cook with more confidence. When this blog was just a tiny thoughtlet, Karen and I would discuss the most important things we’ve learned in the kitchen. Karen mentioned realizing that sugar could easily be replaced with brown sugar. Or honey. Or agave. Or whatever sweetening agent you prefer! I talked a lot about my dislike for salmon and figuring out that other fish that could replace it in recipes I wanted to try. We both had experienced the madness that comes with shopping for a new recipe—the act of purchasing every single ingredient and spending hundreds of dollars because you don’t know what you can omit or not.
We both have become much more confident in the kitchen with years of professional experience in the food world under our collective belts. (Though TBH, I still google the best oven temp for 90% of the things I cook.) We have come to know that kale really means “any hearty leafy green you have on hand.” Chicken thighs can easily be replaced by any piece of skin-on, bone-in chicken. Penne can be rigatoni and white beans can be chickpeas. This knowledge comes with cooking—a lot of cooking—and reading about cooking. There’s no way around it. To eventually be recipeless, you first need to follow a lot of recipes.
Today’s recipe is a perfect example. This is based on a Bon-Appetit recipe by Andy Baraghani. The flavors are incredible. The techniques? Easy. I made his recipe and I felt like it was a great use of my time, and I had a delicious dinner. However, there were things that I wanted to change to make it a repeat recipe for me. (Me is the important word here. You may like the OG recipe as written. You may like mine better. Or yours. That’s the best thing about food—it’s so personal.) A previous version of Dylan may have just written off this recipe because she didn’t like eating slices of lemon and pulling out bones from her stew. However, this version of Dylan, the one you get to listen to right now, knew that the fundamental flavors were out of this world, and a recipe that fit her liking could be built from Bon Appetit’s great work.
Chicken, tomatoes, and chickpeas, oh my!
The key is this: You can use any part of the chicken you’d like. We go with legs because they are economical and forgiving when it comes to cook times. If you like breasts, go for it! Just make sure to keep the temperature extra low and slow so you don’t overcook the white meat. Have a whole chicken to use up? Cut it up and use the whole thing. You can’t screw this one up.
Time: 2 hours
Active Time: 30 minutes
Drink: Food-friendly Italian beauties—Dolcetto, Barbara, Sangiovese, Nero D’Avola.
1. Combine honey, tomato paste, cinnamon, cumin, turmeric, and cayenne into a wet paste
2. Wash and dry chicken; season aggressively with salt and pepper
3. Brown chicken over medium-high heat
Use the largest Dutch oven or heavy-bottom pot you have. You’ll need to fit a lot of chicken in there. Heat your olive oil and once it’s hot, cook chicken on one side—without touching—until golden brown. Flip and brown the other side. This will take about 12–15 minutes. Transfer chicken to a plate for later.
4. Cook aromatics
Cook the onion until well softened, 8–10 minutes, and then add the garlic, and cook for another minute or two to take the raw edge off. Now, add your honey-tomato paste to the mixture and cook, stirring frequently, for two minutes. It should smell divine.
5. Add tomatoes
6. Return the chicken to the pot and add chicken broth.
Use enough to cover the chicken, but just barely. Bring the entire thing to a hearty simmer.
7. Lower heat, mostly cover, and cook for 75 minutes.
Turn the heat down to low or medium-low to keep a gentle bubble going the entire time. Cover the pot with a lid, but not fully, leaving a little room for steam to exit.
8. Remove the chicken
Let it cool enough to handle it.
9. Add chickpeas and torn kale leaves
Stir to ensure the leaves wilt.
10. Tear chicken off the bone; add it back to the soup.
Once the chicken is cool enough to handle, pull the meat and add it back to the pot without the bones.
Serve with rice or flatbread—or both!
Caramelized lemon halves: Cut a lemon in half and put it face-down in a dry pan over high heat. Press down to ensure cooking and cook until halves are well browned. This should take around 2–3 minutes.
Herb medley: Chop a mixture of fresh herbs. Choose from parsley, cilantro, mint, chives, or basil.
Toasted seeds: Take your pick between sesame seeds and pepitas. Toast in a dry pan until medium-brown and serve atop stew.
Greek yogurt: Top your stew with a dollop of the good stuff.
Um, excuse me?
Wait… Dylan doesn’t like salmon? What’s wrong with her?
A lot. She’s a monster.
Can I make this vegetarian?
Actually, yes! The recipe will be a bit different—and much quicker—but this would be a great vegetarian stew with an extra can of chickpeas. Basically, skip the chicken steps and only simmer for about 30 minutes to thicken the tomatoes and intensify flavors. Use vegetable stock rather than chicken.
I don’t like X. Can I do without it?
Literally, yes. Whatever it is. This is a recipe that you should feel free to play with. Use different beans, throw rice in to cook with your chicken, sub agave for honey. Find your bliss.
Do I need to bother caramelizing the lemon halves?
You don’t have to do anything, but we recommend it. The smoky, caramelized addition to the lemon really ups the ante.
This looks so damn good. Any other stews you got?
Right this way.