You all know I live in Southern California and perhaps you know we are having a very mild, but super dry winter. We actually have a serious drought happening here. And you might also know that 99% of my entire family lives in the New York/New Jersey area. And they’re having a veerrryy different kind of winter.
So most of our phone calls the last few weeks have been kind of like this:
Me: “Hi! It’s me. What’s new?”
Sister/Mother/Father: “It’s snowing. AGAIN. The kids are off from school. AGAIN. It’s absolutely freezing out there. Seriously, this is the worst winter EVER!”
Me: “Bummer. But I asked, ‘what’s neeeewwww?'”
Same old, same old. I miss the talks we used to have about currents events, movies, what we’re making for dinner, what we ate for lunch. Interesting, riveting stuff. Instead, it’s all blizzard all the time! Thankfully, winter doesn’t last forever and they’ll all be able to get back to business before we know it. Easy for me to say, I’m sure.
But if I were in the middle of a polar vortex,
I would quickly buy a one-way ticket to L.A. I would make super-warming foods for breakfast, lunch and dinner. We may not be able to control the weather, but we can control the thermal nature of what we eat. And I say, heat me up! High on my list would be this Moroccan chicken with dates which I taught in my classes last February. I know it seems like there are a lot of ingredients in this recipe, but half of them are spices, all of which are warming to the body, and anti-inflammatory, too. These spices, including ginger, cinnamon, turmeric, cumin and a pinch of cayenne are also quite flavorful and make this otherwise simple chicken dish, something very special. There’s also a little bit of sweetness from the cinnamon and from halved dates which rank as one of my favorite foods on the planet. A little earthy, a little sweet, a touch spicy and a little tart — it’s one of my favorite chicken recipes!
In these images, and for dinner last night, I served this with an apricot couscous (I’ll post the recipe next week.) This will have a very tasty, but brothy sauce which just begs for something to sop it up. Couscous, which is pretty dry, is the perfect side dish. But you don’t need to make it with any seasonings or herbs. Even plain would be just the right side for this dish. Otherwise, if you’re gluten-free, steamed rice, quinoa or millet would be amazing here. I also served it for dinner with simply sautéed Swiss chard, but check out this recipe for raw grated carrot and beet salad. That would be fabulous, too.
I have made this recipe in the slow cooker, as well. Please read the directions for how to adjust this recipe for the slow cooker. Both versions are amazing and will help warm up your core. At least until the next snowfall or tomorrow, or both, as the case might be!
- 3 ½ pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken parts such as breasts (I like them split), thighs or drumsticks, seasoned with 1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt when you get home from the market or brined for an hour (1/4 cup kosher salt + 2 cups water) EXCEPT if you use kosher chicken. See this post for how and why to brine chicken.
- 1 Tablespoon unrefined coconut oil or olive oil
- 2 onions, chopped
- 3 medium carrots, peeled and cubed
- 3 cinnamon sticks
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 ½ teaspoons ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- ½ teaspoon ground turmeric (feel free to add more if you like it)
- ⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
- 1 ½ cups chicken stock
- 5 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice, divided
- 12 dates, pitted and halved
- ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro, if you like it
- Heat the oil in a large heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Pat the chicken dry with paper towels and add to the pot in one layer. Do not overcrowd. Cook until browned on the underside, then turn over and browned on the other side, about 15 minutes total. Transfer chicken to a baking sheet or platter and repeat with remaining chicken if there’s some still left to do.
- Add onions and carrots to the pot and sauté until tender and translucent, about 6 minutes.
- Add cinnamon sticks, salt and remaining spices. Sauté about 1 minute, or until fragrant.
- Add stock, 3 Tablespoons lemon juice and dates. Deglaze the pan by scraping the brown bits from the bottom with a wooden spoon. Bring to a boil, add chicken pieces back to pot skin-side up and cover. Lower heat and simmer until chicken is completely cooked through, about 40-45 minutes. An instant-red thermometer should read 165 degrees when inserted into the thickest part of the breast.
- Add lemon juice to pot and stir to combine. If sauce needs thickening, transfer chicken to a platter and simmer sauce until it is reduced. Sprinkle everything with cilantro and serve.
Use bone-in, skinLESS pieces of chicken
Use a skillet to brown chicken, and sauté vegetables and spices. Add only ¾ cup of stock to the pan and the same amount of lemon juice as in the original recipe to deglaze the pan. Do not add the dates until 20 minutes before serving.
Transfer the browned chicken, and the vegetable, spice, stock and lemon juice mixture to the slow cooker and cook covered on LOW for 7-8 hours or HIGH 4-5 hours.
20 minutes before serving, stir dates into the slow cooker. Add remaining lemon juice and garnish with cilantro, if desired.
I made this last night – the recipe must have come through on your weekly meal planner. It was so delicious. My husband said to keep this recipe!
So glad! Such a warming, flavorful dish!
HI, I couldnt find your note about when and why to brine chicken… I am curious to know. Thanks!
This was a huge hit with my husband and three sons! My chicken cooked far faster than 40 minutes, which was a welcome surprise since it was one of those running-late-Tuesday nights!
Ok, great! You may have had smaller pieces or browned them for longer than I did. Always good to check protein early!
Can this be made with boneless skinless breasts?
It won’t brown as nicely. I would brown them in a skillet and braise the whole thing on the stovetop.
Pamela, can this be made a day in advance? My only concern is would the dates be too soft?
For my dinner party tomorrow, I’ve done everything except placed chicken and dates in pot
to simmer for 45 minutes. Looking forward to your response.
I have eaten leftovers and I thought it was delicious! Regarding the dates, it depends on your dates to start with. Ones that are old and flaky, may soften up too much. Good Medjool dates should hold their shape even when reheated. You can also make this a few hours ahead and after it is completely cooked, transfer it to a slow cooker and keep it on the WARM setting.
This was a hit! I served this with your moroccan carrots, mexican kale, polenta and brown rice option. All presented well and everyone especially loved the chicken and commented on the carrots and polenta as well! Thank you!!!
Oh, I was hoping you’d let me know how it went. Wow! What an incredible and delicious meal. Your guests were a lucky bunch! Thanks, Cheryl!
How would you make this stew vegetarian? What would you replace the chicken with? Thanks!
I would use cubed butternut squash and chickpeas – maybe 2 pounds of squash and 1 can of chickpeas.
Loved it!Will probably use pine nuts next time instead of almonds. Also will use two cinnamon sticks instead of three. The sauce thickens beautifully with the dried dates.
sounds good! thanks for the feedback 🙂
I don’t see where the recipe calls for pine nuts or almonds. Is this just something Laura Jervis decided to try?
Yes, she decided to add nuts to this dish. I did not develop the recipe to include nuts.
I love this! Slow-cooked, skinless…just like you called for oh culinary goddess. Mmmmmm! MWAH!
haha! Glad you enjoyed it! 🙂
You’re welcome, Pamela, I’ll be slow-cooking your Moroccan Chicken again, this time for a new year’s eve potluck. I’ll be making it 10 hours in advance and warming it upon my arrival to the potluck. When should I add the dates, oh Princess of the Culinary Arts?
Wow this dish is absolutely amazing!!! The chicken was falling off the bone and the sauce was incredible. I used
bone-in skin-on chicken breasts and legs in the slow cooker because I didn’t see that it said skinless and it worked perfectly. Thank you!
Thanks, Amanda! I just love all the flavors. I like to use skinless in the slow cooker so the sauce doesn’t get too oily. But if you liked it, that’s great!
I’m allergic to Cayanne pepper it makes my throat close. Is there anything else I could add
I would omit it altogether or add a pinch of crushed red pepper flakes. It’s not essential to the recipe.
Would this recipe work with boneless skinless chicken breasts?
You will not get the same result in terms of browning and you will have to cook it for less time. Be careful not to dry the breasts out!
Thank you for creating this delectable dish! I made it with my daughter for the first time last night and it was really fun to put together. It smelled so good, and the final result was really delicious. I served it with brown rice and broccoli which was perfect, and some Tzatziki Sauce on the side from Trader Joe’s which was a nice compliment.
I can’t wait to eat the leftovers, and to make it again! Perfect for a chilly winter night…
What a lovely meal and I never thought to have it with tzatziki. Sounds delicious!
Love your site…. is it possible to list the nutritional value…
Thanks.. keep up the good work !!!!
My husband loved this chicken and he is not always happy to eat chicken. I used the crock pot and it turned out great. I served it with whole wheat couscous. I loved the rich, earthy flavors. Yummy!
excellent! Kudos to you, Monica!
Did you cook it on low for 5 hrs. or high
Low 7-8 hours and High for 4-5 hours. If you cook it on HIGH, check it after 4 hours and if it’s done, turn machine to WARM.
So for the slow cooker version I only add 3/4 cup of stock instead of the whole 1 1/2 cup in stove top version? Thanks!
Yes. There’s no evaporation in the slow cooker, so I always adjust recipes by cutting the liquid. Don’t forget to add the dates in later and not in the beginning. 🙂
Thanks for the quick reply!
Hi. Looks so good. With 5 month old twins I don’t have time to make stocks. How would you adjust if using chicken broth? Thanks!
By broth, do you mean stock that’s already seasoned? If so, just be more conservative with the salt and season to taste before serving. 🙂
My first try at Moroccan cuisine. Excellent recipe and a hit with the whole family. I will be making this again.
Oh, how great to hear! Thank you!
love to hear that, thx!
Made for our entire extended family for our treasured Sunday night dinner… everyone loved it, including the kiddos!
The dish was really straightforward and easy to make! This will definitely make it onto the table regularly!
Thanks for the exotic ease I can bring into the mix!
Amazing! Thank you, Shanti!
What a wonderful recipe for a freezing winter evening! The combination of the spices and the sweet dates is so appealing. I served the chicken with rice and some sauteed spinach, but I look forward to trying it again with your apricot couscous. Many thanks for another delicious and easy recipe!
Thanks, Mia. I agree, perfect to warm you up on a cold winter night!
I was first introduced to this delightful dish at a friend’s Seder. She was kind enough to share the recipe and I’ve made it often since including my friend’s 94 yr old Norwegian mother who raved over it. I also shared the recipe and it is now a favorite in their household as well.
It is well suited to an Instant Pot, browning on sauté and using a little less liquid and a little more of each spice to offset the additional moisture via condensation. 22 minutes and depressurize naturally for another 15 or so. Perfect.
(This being the year of pantry cooking, raisins nicely for dates and I always freeze a portion for one of those too tired to cook nights).
Hi! What would you recommend in place of the carrots? Thanks!
I would use peeled sweet potatoes or butternut squash. Or you can leave them out altogether!
Pamela, I made this last night for my family….it was the hugest hit, and is one of my new favorite dishes. Thank you!! Xx
I’m so glad you made it and it was a success!! I love it, too!
It all sounds so delicious – I hope I give it justice.
thinking of you – love reading all your comments and recipes.
Hope your family gets sun soon-
Thank you, Lynn!