Actually, I was intrigued by the use of orange in the topping until I digged in some old recipe books and there it was: orange can be used as of topping in a few tagines, it's been done for ages and in different ways..
Although sugar is added to the confit of carrots, somehow, it does not come through as a sweet dish. That was another surprising thing in this dish which is perfect for the spring/summer season.
I just regretted we didn't have enough topping as I was still hungry for me by the end of the meal.
Prep: 10 min - Cooking: 1 hour ( 1 1/2 in a tagine over coal/wood)
For the chicken
- 1/2 chicken or 2 thighs from a big chicken, prepared (*) the Moroccan way
- 1 medium-size onion, finely chopped
- 1 heaped tsp of freshly grated ginger or flat tsp of ginger powder
- 1/2 tsp of white pepper
- 1/2 tsp of turmeric
- A good pinch of saffron threads (1/2 tsp)
- 1 small stick of cinnamon
- 3 tbsps of olive oil
- Salt to taste
For the confit of carrots with orange
- 500 g of carrots, peeled and grated or finely julienned
- 100 g of caster sugar
- Zest of 1 lemon
- Zest of 1 orange
- 1/2 tsp of salt
- A pinch of cinnamon
- 30 g of butter or olive oil
- 200 ml of orange juice
Place a pan or a tagine over medium heat. Add 1/4 of water, then all the ingredients and mix. Let simmer until the liquid has slightly reduced. Add enough hot water to cover 2/3 of the bird. Cover and cook for at least 40 min. The sauce should be reduced by then and the chicken cooked tender.
Make the confit of carrots
In a pan over medium heat, place the grated carrots along with the lemon and orange zest. Add water to cover 3/4 of the mix and blanch it for about 5 minutes.
Now that the water should have almost evaporated and the carrots are soft, add the rest of the ingredients and stir frequently for about 10 minutes. The carrots should be ready by then and the liquid all gone.
After cooking the chicken, you could slightly roast it for 15 minutes under a grill before serving it. Some people like this option.
If you have cooked the chicken in a tagine, just top it with the confit of carrots with orange.
If you have cooked in a pot or pan, place the chicken in the middle of a serving dish, pour the sauce on top and around. Top the chicken base with the carrot paste.
Serve warm with bread to soak that nice sauce.
(*) How to prepare the chicken for cooking in Moroccan Cuisine
In Morocco, we usually buy chicken from a market where it would be slaughtered the same day, on request, then treated with hot water to remove the feathers. Then the man in charge of this gives us the bird with its giblets and gizzards.
The bulk of chicken is then taken care of for further cleaning and tenderizing, this is a woman's job and it happens in the house, the same day the chicken was bought.
Buckets, sieves and brine are all what's needed to go about this..I give directions for 1 bird. For more, just multiply the ingredients.
This job is done once but then the freezer is stocked for months.
I do the the same for a couple of chickens every 2 weeks in my London kitchen.
For health safety, make sure you clean any surface or tool in contact with chicken with hot soapy water.
For 1 chicken
- About 3 liters of water or enough to cover the bird (whole or in pieces)
- 2 tbsps vinegar,
- 1 tbsp of salt
- Lemon or orange rinds, wedges or slices
First of all, clean the chicken thoroughly. Rub it with sea salt and 1/2 a lemon or butter orange.
Dip it in a brine for at least 3 hours.
Try to get rid of any fat between the skin and the meat (yep, those white spots, you will never find them in a chicken cooked Moroccan style). Discard any bit of feather left as well, the membrane between the skin and the meat.
Be careful not to tear up the skin if you want to roast the chicken.
Drain, pat dry and freeze for the future or carry on with your recipe of the day.