Now that I'm in the arena of the chic and Moroccan –– a place I could happily stay for a long time –– I have to share this recipe. I made it for one of the best chefs I know, Manny Howard, whose book My Empire of Dirt is an amazing read. It's all about how he turned his Brooklyn backyard into a producing farm. Anyway, I made this for him and he loved it. It's a pretty sophisticated dish, at least by my standards, and you will probably be shocked or at least surprised by all the raisins involved. And maybe even by the large amount of onions. But preservere! You will wind up with an unusual, delicious dish. It is a very ancient recipe from the city of Fez.
Couscous m'hassel Sweet Chicken couscous:
Canola oil for frying
2lbs 4oz onions, peeled and sliced
3 tsp crushed saffron
3tsp ground ginger
3tsp ground black pepper
1 lb 2 oz raisins
3tsp ground cinnamon
1-2 tbs sugar
3 lbs 6 ounces chicken pieces
5 ounces toasted, sliced almonds (for garnish)
1- Heat the vegetable oil in a frying pan and fry the onin and 1 tsp each of the spices except the cinnamon over a low heat until the onion is soft. Add the raisins, 1 tsp of the cinnamon and the sugar. Cook over a medium heat for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Set aside, off the heat, to let the flavors meld.
2 - Sprinkle the chicken with the remaining spices (saffron, ginger, black pepper, and cinnamon) and cook in a steamer OR bake in a 375 oven for 1 hour, until the chicken is cooked through.
3 - Make enough couscous for 6.
4 - Arrange the chicken pieces over the couscous, pour the onion and raisin mixture, then garnish with the toasted almonds and serve.