Fall fare by way of Morocco

Fall is definitely one of those funny seasons where it can feel like summer one day, and the next you’d swear you felt the bite of snow in the air. Meal planning kind of follows suit, with some comfort foods beginning to appear on the menu, but then suddenly a day or two of unseasonably warm temperatures brings back the desire for something a little lighter in fare.

Which is why this Moroccan Chicken Stew seems so perfect for this time of year. A stew – brimming with tender bits of chicken, some onions, and aromatic spices like cardamom – but with a few Eastern accents like dried apricots and chickpeas that still recall some of summertime. And even better: this recipe is cooked up in the crock pot so you can forget about it while you clean the rest of the house and get a few toys in order for a play date. Whip up a batch of toasted couscous to keep the stew company in your bowl, and it’s a tasty trip.

Moroccan Chicken Stew (from America’s Test Kitchen’s Slow Cooker Revolution)

Ingredients

  • 2 onions, minced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 2 (15-ounce) cans chickpeas, rinsed and drained – sometimes they’re labeled garbanzo beans
  • 1 cup dried apricots, chopped medium (TIP: before chopping, spray your knife blade with a little cooking spray. It really helps with keeping the apricots from sticking to the knife blade)
  • 3 tablespoons Minute tapioca
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 3 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro
  • Light brown sugar
  • Lemon wedges, for serving

Directions

1. Microwave onions, garlic, tomato paste, oil, paprika, cardamom, and cayenne in bowl, stirring occasionally, until onions are softened, about 5 minutes; transfer to slow cooker.

2. Stir broth, wine, chickpeas, half of the apricots, tapioca, bay leaves, and cinnamon stick into slow cooker. Cover and cook until chicken is tender, 4 to 6 hours on low.

3. Transfer chicken to cutting board, let cool slightly, then shred into bite-size pieces. Let stew settle for 5 minutes, then remove fat from surface using a large spoon. Discard bay leaves and cinnamon stick.

4. Stir in remaining apricots, over, and cook on high until softened, about 5 to 10 minutes. Stir in shredded chicken and let sit until heated through, about 5 minutes. (Adjust stew consistency with additional hot broth as needed.) Stir in cilantro, season with salt, pepper and sugar to taste, and serve with lemon wedges.
Serves 4 to 6

Toasted Couscous

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups couscous
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cups boiling water

Directions

Toast couscous with the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat, stirring occasionally until lightly browned – about 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in 1/2 teaspoon salt to the boiling water, and add to the skillet. Cover, then let sit until couscous is tender, about 12 minutes. Fluff with fork and season with salt and pepper.

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