On the eve of October – the last Sunday in September – I made dinner for just my immediate family. On Tuesday we’ll begin our annual harvest dinners, (which you can read about here or here) and for the next month I’ll be cooking for 10 to 20 people every night.
While those harvest dinners around the big table are wonderful and second nature to me now, after doing it for every harvest for nearly twenty years, last night I relished in a small meal for just my small-ish family.
Usually I roast a whole chicken on Sunday night, but this time I deviated to a one pot Moroccan Chicken and Rice. The rice is studded with dates and olives and the whole thing is seasoned with a hefty dose of Harissa Sauce and, naturally, cumin and coriander.
The preparation for this dish is simple and the entire thing – prep and roasting takes less than an hour. The warm spices and the rich flavor are the perfect combination for easing from late summer to fall. I recommend you put this on your menu for some evening soon.
Moroccan Chicken and Rice with Dates and Olives
- 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil divided
- 1 onion, chopped
- 2-3 cloves garlic, chopped
- 6-8 chicken thighs bone in, skin on
- 4 tbsp harissa sauce to taste
- 1 tbsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp ground coriander
- 1 cup white basmati rice rinsed
- 1/2 cup good quality green olives, pitted
- 8 medjool dates, pitted and quartered
- 1 orange
- 1 1/2 cups water
- kosher salt and pepper
- 2 tbsp pistachios, shelled and chopped
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Warm a large, heavy oven-proof skillet over medium heat. When the pan is warm add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and heat until it shimmers. Meanwhile put the chicken thighs in a large bowl and season generously all over with salt and pepper. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil and 2 tablespoons of harissa and using your hands or a large spoon toss the chicken with the sauce and oil until every piece is coated. Set aside for a few minutes while you do the rest of the prep.When the oil is hot, add the onions and a nice pinch of salt. Sauce the onions until they are soft and beginning to turn translucent, stirring occasionally for about five minutes. Add the garlic and saute for just 30 seconds to a minute, just until the garlic is fragrant. Add the cumin and coriander and stir into the onions and garlic for about 30 seconds. The add the remaining harissa and stir all of that to coat the onion mixture. If the pan looks dry, add another glug of olive oil then add the rice and stir. Once the rice is thoroughly coated with the oil and spices allow it to gently toast, stirring a bit, for about 4 or 5 minutes. Stir in the dates and olives.With a vegetable peeler, peel just the orange part of the skin of the orange into strips about an inch wide and drop them right into the mixture. Cut the orange in half and squeeze in the juice. Add another 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Stir it all to combine again and then nestle the chicken pieces in a single layer on top of the rice. Scrape any leftover harissa from the chicken bowl into the pan too. Now, working around the pieces of chicken so as not to rinse off the harissa marinade, add the water to the pan evenly all around. Put the pan in the oven uncovered and roast for 40 minutes. About 15 minutes before the time is up, open the oven and push any rice that isn't under the chicken or the liquid underneath, so that it cooks. After the full 40 minutes the chicken pieces should be nicely golden brown and cooked through. Pull the pan out of the oven and cover with foil or a pan lid and let rest for about 5 to 10 minutes. Sprinkle the chopped pistachios over all and serve warm.