Braised Moroccan-Spiced Chicken with Dates

by Megg

When winter hits I’m always looking for hearty, warm meals to make.  Problem is, I find that many people do away with flavor in the pursuit of comfort.  That is why, for example, I created my Jerk Chicken Pot Pie recipe; just because a meal is warm and cozy, doesn’t mean it can’t tantalize my taste buds at the same time!  And while I’ll be the first to agree that simple does not have to mean dull, and that plenty of comfort food excels because of its simplicity, I also think it’s far too easy to ignore the rest.  Let me be the first to tell you: this is not a dish you want to ignore!
Here we have braised chicken with an aromatic array of Moroccan spices, the honeyed sweetness of Medjool dates, and a lively sprinkle of cilantro and toasted almonds.  It’s perfect over a hearty grain such as couscous or quinoa.  Talk about comfort! 

Medjool Dates
Even better, it’s much quicker to make than most typical braised dishes.  You don’t even have to turn the oven on! 

Braised Moroccan-Spiced Chicken with Dates
Braised Moroccan-Spiced Chicken with Dates
—adapted from Epicurious
Makes 6 servings
  • 3 1/2 lb cut-up chicken (split chicken breasts, thighs, drumsticks (wings optional))
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 8-10 large shallots, peeled
  • 2-3 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 5 tablespoons freshly-squeezed lemon juice, divided
  • 12 Medjool dates, pitted and halved
  • 1/4 cup toasted sliced almonds
  • 1/3 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
Browned ChickenSautéing ShallotsBraising Chicken
1. Mix the flour, salt, and white pepper in a small bowl.  Lightly sprinkle the flour mixture over the chicken pieces.  In a large, heavy pot, heat olive oil over medium-high heat.  Add half of the chicken pieces* to the pot (avoid overcrowding) and brown on all sides, turning from time to time, about 15 minutes.  Transfer the browned chicken to a clean platter, then repeat with the rest of the chicken. (*To reduce cooking time, you can brown the chicken in two separate pots at the same time, then combine all the chicken in the larger pot when ready to braise). 

2. When all of the chicken is browned and removed from the pot, pour off and discard all but 2 tablespoons of fat.  Return the pot to the stove and turn the heat to medium.  Add the whole, peeled shallots and sauté until lightly browned, about 5 minutes.  Add cinnamon sticks, ginger, cumin, turmeric and cayenne to the pot and stir for a minute until aromatic.

3. Bring the heat up to high and slowly add the chicken broth.  Add 3 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice and bring to a boil.  Once boiling, reduce the heat to a simmer and cover.  Simmer for 15-18 minutes, or until shallots start to soften.  Uncover, add all of the chicken to the pot and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.  Reduce the heat back to medium-low and cover.  Simmer until chicken is cooked through, about 25 minutes.
4. When the chicken is cooked, transfer it to a platter with the shallots and tent with foil to keep warm.  Bring the liquid in the pot to a boil until thickened slightly.  Add the dates and the last 2 tablespoons of lemon juice.  Stir and reduce to a gentle simmer for about 4 minutes, until dates are heated through.  To serve, pour the sauce over the chieken, and garnish with a sprinkle of cilantro and almonds.
We enjoyed this luscious dish over pearl couscous, which added a lovely texture and soaked up the delectable sauce.  I also made a zesty arugula and mint salad to go with! And, of course, it ended up in a bento lunch the next day. 

12-15-10 Braised Chicken w- Dates Bento
Now it’s your turn: what’s your favorite kind of comfort food? ^_^
  • Bentobird

    Oh my, this looks amazing Megg. As a fan of Moroccan flavors, I must try this gift of a recipe! Thank you for sharing 😀

  • tasteofbeirut

    I first tasted dates with rice in a Persian restaurant in LA and loved it! This is a great couscous dish, thanks for reminding me of the joys of sweet couscous, which we call moghrabieh in Lebanese kitchen terms. (from maghreb)

  • Megg

    Thanks Jenn! I'd never had cooked dates before this recipe.. sooo good, especially with everything else!

  • Megg

    Love your site, Taste of Beirut! Thanks for your comment!

  • happywhennothungry

    This dish looks awesome! I always like to find unique chicken recipes since my hubby and I tend to get sick of chicken sometimes. This recipe has so many great flavors!

  • Megg

    Thanks Happywhennothungry! This one sure is exciting.. perfect when you're bored with plain ol' chicken!

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