Moroccan Chicken with Eggplant, Tomatoes & Almonds

Back to work….
Last night, I catered a party for a friend of mine who throws dinner parties followed by a movie that he shows in his screening room. It was Raiders of the Lost Ark. He had the executive producer come and open the film. Anyway, I made this Moroccan chicken and Tunisian Almond & Orange Cake to tie in to the North African theme.

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Moroccan Chicken with Eggplant, Tomatoes & Almonds

Serves 8

This version of a tagine, the classic Moroccan stew, calls for dark meat because it stays moist when braised. If you prefer white meat, reduce the cooking time by 15 minutes.

6 Tbs olive oil, divided
3 cups onions, sliced
6 large garlic cloves, minced
1 Tbs Hungarian sweet paprika
1 1/2 tsp coarse kosher salt
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp fennel seeds, ground
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground ginger
2 cups drained canned diced tomatoes (from 28 oz can)
15 oz can chickpeas, drained
1 cup water
3 Tbs (or more) fresh lemon juice
8 chicken thighs with bones, skinned
8 chicken drumsticks, skinned
1 large eggplant, unpeeled, cut into 1-inch cubes
1/2 cup whole blanched almonds or slivered almonds, toasted
Chopped fresh cilantro

Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in heavy large wide pot over medium heat.

Add onions and garlic. Cover and cook until onions are soft, about 10 minutes. Add paprika, salt, turmeric, coriander, fennel, pepper, cumin, and ginger; stir 1 minute. Add tomatoes, chickpeas, 1 cup water, and 3 tablespoons lemon juice; bring to boil. Arrange all chicken in single layer in pot; spoon some sauce over. Bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer 15 minutes. Turn chicken over, cover, and simmer until chicken is tender, about 20 minutes longer.

Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400°F. Brush large rimmed baking sheet with olive oil. Place eggplant and remaining 4 tablespoons olive oil in large bowl; toss to coat. Spread eggplant out on prepared baking sheet and bake until soft and brown, stirring occasionally, about 25 minutes. (Chicken and eggplant can be made 1 day ahead. Cool slightly. Refrigerate separately until cold, then cover and keep refrigerated.)

Stir eggplant into chicken. Simmer uncovered 10 minutes to heat through and blend flavors. Season stew to taste with more lemon juice, if desired, and salt and pepper. Transfer chicken to large shallow bowl. Sprinkle with almonds and cilantro.

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