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North African Chicken with Almond-Raisin Couscous and Mint Chutney

Time 3 hours 30 minutes
Yields Serves 6
North African Chicken with Almond-Raisin Couscous and Mint Chutney

Mint chutney

1

If you’re using cumin seeds, spread them in a pie plate and toast them at 350 degrees until fragrant, about 5 minutes. Grind them in a spice grinder, then combine them in a blender with the onion, jalapeno, lemon juice, garlic, cilantro, mint and salt, adding enough water while whirring the blender to make a smooth, thick paste. (If using cumin powder, combine it in a blender with the other ingredients as directed.) Use as needed, storing the remainder in refrigerator for future use. Makes 3/4 cup.

Almond-raisin couscous

1

Heat the oven to 350 degrees.

2

Combine the chicken broth, shallot, curry powder and dark and golden raisins in a saucepan. Bring to a boil.

3

Place the couscous in mixing bowl and cover it with the broth mixture. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and let it stand 10 minutes.

4

Meanwhile, spread the almonds on a baking sheet and toast them until lightly browned, 5 minutes.

5

Uncover the couscous and stir in the oil, almonds and green onions. Serve warm or at room temperature.

6

Makes 7 cups.

Chicken

1

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Split the chickens into half to make 6 halves. Remove the back bones.

2

Mix the flour with the salt and pepper in a shallow plate. Dredge the chicken in the flour mixture to coat it well, then shake off any excess flour.

3

Heat the oil over high heat in a deep roasting pan. Fry the chicken in a single layer, skin side down, being careful to avoid oil splatters. Reduce the heat to medium and cook until the chicken is golden brown on one side, 8 minutes. Turn and brown the other side, 8 minutes. Do this in batches, if necessary.

4

Remove the chicken from the pan and discard all but 2 tablespoons of oil. Add the onion, celery, carrot and garlic and cook until the vegetables are browned and slightly soft, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. Add the curry powder, coriander, cumin, achiote paste and tomato paste and cook until the spices become fragrant, about 3 minutes.

5

Add the red wine, scraping the bottom of the pan to remove any brown bits. Continue to cook until wine is reduced by half, about 5 minutes.

6

Add the honey, 1/4 cup of the apricots, the thyme, bay leaf, cinnamon stick, 1/4 cup olives and the saffron. Place the chicken, skin side up, over the vegetables in the pan and press down to nestle among the vegetables. Add the chicken stock and enough cold water to just cover the chicken.

7

Bring the liquid to a boil over high heat. Cover the pan with foil and bake the chicken 1 hour. Remove the foil and continue cooking until the chicken is golden brown and the liquid has been reduced by half, another 30 minutes.

8

Remove the chicken, cover it with foil and keep warm.

9

Strain the braising liquid into a smaller saucepan. Add the remaining 1/4 cup apricots, 1/4 cup olives and dark and golden raisins to the strained liquid. Bring the liquid to a boil and simmer until the sauce is thick enough to coat a metal spoon, 30 minutes.

10

To serve, spoon 1 cup of Almond-Raisin Couscous into the center of a plate. Top it with a chicken half. (Some of the chicken may fall apart into pieces, but that’s OK.) Spoon 1 to 2 tablespoons of Mint Chutney on top and around the chicken.

Achiote paste is available at Latino markets and at well-stocked supermarkets.

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