Thursday, December 8, 2011

Crispy Chicken Fes-Style - Ohmy good!


When I opened up Paula Wolfert's new book "the Food of Morocco" I knew I was in trouble. As I turned the pages I wanted to make every dish in this book. So, I thought to myself..."self, you can do whatever you want. If you want to cook every recipe in this book you can!" I decided on the "Crispy Chicken Fes-Style, with Spices, Honeyed Onions, and Sauteed Almonds" to start with.

No, not this kind of Fes.

THIS kind.


I have just finished "Charcutepalooza" and I sorta am sick of meat. This was a factor in my choice of making a chicken dish although I didn't need a reason. It didn't hurt that the recipe also called for a spatchcocked chicken! You know I love flattening out those little devils.


A marinade was made up. This is done the night before you are going to make the actual dish.


This marinade would be awesome on a simple roasted chicken as well.


This dish was pretty easy to make. It does take time but so do all good things. See? *I* can be deep.


There ya have it. Dr. Food and I absolutely adored this dish and gave it 10 thumbs up. Wait.. that doesn't work. We gave it a 10 slurp rating!

Crispy Chicken Fes-Style, with Spices, Honeyed Onions, and Sauteed Almonds
The Food of Morocco - Paula Wolfert

One 3 1/2 lb Chicken, air chilled, backbone, neck and wing tips removed and reserved for some other purpose, liver reserved


1/2 red onion, grated (about 1/4C)
2 Tbl chopped flat-leaf parsley
2 Tbl chopped cilantro
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 tsp coarse salt
1 Tbl La Kama Spice Mixture (recipe below)
1 Tbl olive oil

2 Tbl saffron water (1/2 tsp crumbled strands heated in skillet and soaked in 1 C water)
3 Tbl red onions, halved and thinly sliced
1 to 2 tablespoons floral honey, such as orange blossom, acacia, or lavender (I used Tasmanian)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2/3 C blanched whole almonds
2 Tbl clarified butter

La Kama Spice Mixture

1 tsp each ground ginger and ground tumeric
1 tsp freshly ground white pepper
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp cubeb pepper (optional)
A good pinch of grated nutmeg

Mix the ground spices. Sift through a fine sieve and store in a closed jar in a cool, dark place.

1. The day before: Rinse the chicken and pat dry; trim away excess fat. Slide your fingers under the skin to loosen it from the flesh.

2. To prepare the marinade: combine the grated onion, herbs, garlic salt, spices and olive oil. Rub the mixture under and over the skin of the chicken. Place in a bowl and refrigerate, covered, for at least 45 hours and up to 24.

3. Next day: Bring the chicken to room temperature.

4. Remove the chicken, and add the saffron water and 1/4 C water to the marinade in the bowl. Spread 1 Tbl of the olive oil and the sliced onions over the bottom of an 11 to 12 inch tagine set over heat diffuser and place the chicken breast side up on top. Pour over the marinade. Cover with a piece of parchment paper and cook, without disturbing, over low heat for about 1 hour and 15 minutes. The chicken should be very tender, with the flesh just about to fall off the bone. Carefully transfer it to a side dish, cover with foil, and let it rest and firm up.

5. Dice the reserved chicken liver and add to the onion sauce. Raise the heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes, Add the honey and correct the seasoning with salt and pepper.

6. Meanwhile, fry the almonds in 1 tbl of the oil and 1 tbl of the butter until golden brown. (The recipe can be prepared to this point up to 2 hours ahead)

7. Gently reheat the onion sauce in the tagine.

8. Meanwhile, heat the remaining 1 tbl oil and butter in a large skillet over high heat, or set an oven rack about 8 inches from the heat source and turn on broiler. Divide the chicken into 4 to 8 portions; discard any loose bones. Add the chicken, in batches if necessary, to the skillet, to brown and crisp on all sides. (use a spatter screen to protect yourself from the hot fat.) Or baste the chicken with the oil and butter and broil on both sides. As the chicken pieces brown, transfer them to the tagine.

9. Transfer the hot tagine to a wooden surface or folded kitchen towl on a serving tray to prevent cracking. Let the tagine stand with its top on for 5 minutes. Remove the cover, scatter the browned almonds on top, and serve at once.


  1. Um, hello. Yum.

  2. I'll add both of my thumbs and a few slurps to the review.  This was one good chicken.  I even made snadwiches out of the leftovers.  Best Sandwich I have had since......well, thanksgiving, but before that you have to go waaayyyy back.
    Dr. Food

  3. Hey Janis and hellllooooooo Dr. Food!  This looks Just. Too. Fab.!!  I guess I'm gonna have to get Paula's book .  I can't wait to try this one!  It's just about time to replenish my store of preserved lemons, the tree is bursting at the branches with fruit.  It's in the 60's today here in Sacto.  Jealous? :->

  4. Wow, wow, wow. This really does look amazing. I've never heard of cubeb pepper. Enlighten me, please. I'm loving the ingredients in the spice mixture! 

  5. Not sure. I didn't use it.

  6. You and I...we speaka...da same language. good golly miss molly this looks god. 

  7. This looks sooooo amazing!! You make me want to use my tagine more

  8. This is simple oozing with flavours though to find a tagine at my place is not easy.  I can imagine the taste with all spices that went into the chicken.

  9. So I came here to search "chicken" and I see this post ... that tagine is the just like the one I sent to Amanda that was smashed to smithereens.  She got a new one out of the deal but you could have been samies.  :-)