12 chicken thighs (bones in and skin on, excess fat trimmed)
Flour, for dusting
2 onions, slivered
2 carrots, sliced (on the diagonal if you like)
3 garlic cloves, sliced
12 cinnamon sticks (to taste – use less or more!)
1 tsp. ground cumin (toasted and ground yourself)
White wine (“2-buck Chuck” works a charm)
Chicken stock (you’ll need enough to almost cover the pan, so it depends on the size of pan, but anywhere between 2 – 4 cups, usually)
1 cup pitted prunes, roughly chopped
1 bunch of parsley, roughly chopped
Sea salt, of course!
This is so lovely, so yummy, and best yet – so easy!
Remember, you can make this wonderful stew well in advance. Like you, it gets better with age. If you have a crock pot, go on – try it in that! Otherwise use a low oven (325 degrees works well.) Cook for at least an hour…but if I can, I leave it in for 1 ½ to 2 hours. If you are pre-making, store the stew in your fridge and re-heat either in the oven or on the stovetop. Also, this stew freezes very nicely – bring on camping trips to your fellow diner’s delight!
Brown chicken thighs by first dusting them in flour and salt. Brown in a nice hot sauté pan with a bit of oil. Why brown? So that the skin gets nice and crispy, of course! Place on paper towels and set aside.
Wipe out the pan and sauté the onion, garlic and carrot in olive oil. Stir around. Once these begin to get soft, add the spices (cinnamon sticks and the cumin) and let them impart their flavor. Stir this for about a minute or two. This is about the time that everyone in the household will wander into the kitchen to see what on earth smells so lovely.
Now that you have a rapt audience, you can show off! With reckless abandon, pour in as much wine as you like. A whole wineglassful is great. Start a fire if you want to! (the alcohol will just burn off.) Cook as long as it takes for the wine to reduce by at least half. Add the chopped pitted prunes. OK, ready to bake! Transfer this mixture to a baking dish and nestle in the chicken pieces on top. You’ll want the chicken to be almost covered with liquid, so perhaps you’ll need to top with chicken stock at this point. Pop in the oven and fuggetaboudit!
Bake at 325 for about an hour – the liquid will reduce and become thick, the chicken will brown on top and your kitchen will smell fantastic. You win!
Now, the classic Moroccan would serve this dish with perhaps a saffron-scented cous cous, but remember that there is nothing classic about a Hipcook! (Classy, yes – classic, no!) Mix it up – serve this wonderful chicken with pearl barley prepared super-simply. It retains a lovely nutty crunch – and the healthiness of it balances this stew, which is rather rich. Cook the pearl barely according to the package instructions – it is super-easy. Please check proper ratio of water to barley here. All you do is simmer it until it is cooked. You might want to sprinkle with salt and chopped parsley.
To display this dish elegantly for your dinner party, get the prettiest, largest dish you have. Dump in the barley and make a well in the center. Plop in the stew, nestling the chicken pieces and cinnamon sticks and all the yumminess in a pretty way. Flick parsley and flake sea salt over the top – distribute wantonly – and serve with a smile. Your guests will be impressed!
We generally serve this alongside a very simple green salad – arugula and herb salad dressed with nothing but olive oil, lemon and sea salt (Maldon’s, of course!)