Moroccan Chicken Smothered in Olives

Circle B Kitchen

Recipe adapted from NY Times Cooking

There were many complaints in the comments section of the Times about the sauce for this dish being too watery and rather flavorless.  This is my version in which I reduced the amount of chicken broth and to that added yogurt and Harissa paste which is a deliciously spicy Moroccan red pepper paste.  I also added some traditional Moroccan spices such as cinnamon, cloves and coriander.  The resulting sauce was gorgeously flavorful with the perfect consistency. Harissa comes in both spicy and mild versions.  I like to use the mild version so that I can add more without things getting overly spicy.  

Serves 4

8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs 
1 large or 2 small onions, peeled, halved and sliced
2 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 1/2 teaspoons salt

4 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
¾ cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
1 3/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1 tablespoon Harissa paste (or more if using mild Harissa)
1 cup full-fat Greek yogurt
11 ounces pitted green olives in brine, drained (I used a combination of kalamatas and Manzanillas)
Serve over couscous

In a small bowl, combine the ginger, turmeric, cumin, paprika, cinnamon, coriander, salt and the cloves.  Stir to blend well and set aside.

In a large-ish saute pan or skillet, saute onion slices in 2 tablespoons olive oil till soft and cooked down by about half (about 10-15 minutes).  Add the garlic and the spices.  Saute for a couple of minutes or until the spices are fragrant, and then add the chicken.  Turn to coat with the spices.  Add 3/4 cup of the chicken broth.

Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes, turning once.  

Combine the remaining 1 cup chicken broth with the harissa and yogurt and add to the pan.  Stir to incorporate and add more broth, if too thick or more yogurt if too thin.  Taste for salt and spice.  Scatter the olives over the sauce and then simmer partially covered for 10 minutes.  

To serve, sprinkle with a little more cilantro and serve over couscous.  We like to also serve it with a little dollop of yogurt on the side.