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Author Notes: I've had men ask me to leave my husband and marry them after eating serving them this dish. This recipe is based on Claudia Rodan's recipe for Morrocan Chicken from Arabesque. I've refined the technique to make reduce the total amount of chicken fat and to better gauge the rice to sauce in the recipe so that it comes out perfect each time.
Leftovers are even better; I grease a small covered dish, add the rice and a generous splash of water to keep it moist, place the chicken on top, cover and place in the toaster oven for about 20 minutes. —Rebecca Zicarelli
Serves 4 to 6 people
- 4 chicken thighs
- 4 chicken drumsticks
- 1 cup shallots, coarsely chopped
- 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ginger
- 1 generous pinches saffron
- 1 tablespoon salt
- water to cover half-way up the chicken
- 1 tablespoon olive oil or butter
- 1 teaspoon harissa
- 1 1/2 cups basamati rice, rinsed and drained
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 2 1/2 cups braising liquid, with water added to equal total liquid
- Salt the chicken pieces and set on a rack over a sheet pan to dry brine for 40 minutes or longer.
- Preheat a braising pan. Add the olive oil or butter, and brown the chicken on all sides, taking care not to crowd the pieces in the pan; and remove the pieces as they're browned to a plate. When all the chicken is browned, drain off the fat that's cooked out of the chicken. To the empty pan, add the cinnamon, ginger, saffron all at once to release their flavors, and then quickly add a small portion of the water, scraping up all the browned bits in the pan. Stir in the harissa. Put the chicken back in the pan, scatter the shallots around, and add additional water to come slightly more than half-way up the sides of the chicken. Cover and simmer on low for 40 minutes.
- Remove the chicken from the pan to a plate that will catch any drippings, take care not to damage the delicate skin. Strain the braising liquid, reserving the shallots, and let the liquid stand for a few minutes so that the the fat to rise to the top. Skim off most of the fat, and add enough water to equal 2 1/2 cups.
- Put the braising pan back over low heat, and heat to dry out and brown any braising liquid that remains in it. Add a splash of olive oil or butter, and then the rice, stirring until it's translucent and just begins to pop. Stir in the braising liquid; take care here, the rice will make the water foam up, and the steam can burn. (I learned this the hard way.) Stir in the honey and the drained shallots, and place the chicken over the rice in a single layer, skin side up. Cover and simmer over low for about 20 minutes, until the liquid is absorbed and the rice is tender.
- Turn off the heat under the pan, and pre-heat the broiler. Place the pan under the broiler for a few minutes until the skin on the chicken is nicely crisped and the rice just begins to form a crust.
- Serve with additional harissa as a condiment.