Casablanca Chicken

  • Prep Time
    30 minutes
  • Cook Time
    1 hour
  • Serving
  • View

According to Wikipediea:  Casablanca is a 1942 American romantic drama film directed by Michael Curtiz and starring Humphrey BogartIngrid Bergman, and Paul Henreid. Filmed and set during World War II, it focuses on an American expatriate (Bogart) who must choose between his love for a woman (Bergman) and helping her husband (Henreid), a Czechoslovak resistance leader, escape from the Vichy-controlled city of Casablanca to continue his fight against the Germans.

I named this dish Casablanca chicken because Casablanca is the largest city in Morocco, and of course because Casablanca is one of the best movies EVER.  This recipe is actually inspired by several Moroccan chicken dishes I found posted online.  I especially liked the Chicken and Prunes dish on Giangi’s Kitchen website.  Although that recipe calls for the chicken thighs to be browned in the bottom of a tagine and then braised, I opted to bake the thighs in a casserole surrounded by thinly sliced (almost shaved) onions and spices and prunes.  I also added some brown sugar to Giangi’s recipe and to my taste buds it was an improvement.

And I have to say that the couscous I served with this chicken almost became the star of the dish.  In fact, if you can’t find couscous at the grocery store, order it from Amazon:  Based on a tip from the cashier at Dorignac’s, I made the couscous in my rice cooker, adding a healthy squirt of lemon juice and golden raisins.  Wow, it was terrific.  I wound up scooping rice, chicken, raisins and prunes with a chunk of Dorignac’s beautiful Italian bread, and it was fantastic.  While cooking at 415 degrees for one hour, this casserole filled my house with a homey, warm, cinnamon-y smell that evoked the holidays.  Perfect on a cool, drizzly, foggy Friday night while screening Casablanca (again). My tips for making this dish are: (1) slice the onions on a mandolin as thin as you can, so that they are almost shaved, but don’t shave off the tip of your finger like I did a few years ago; (2) pour the wine around the chicken, not on it; (3) after you dust the thighs with spices, let them sit for at least half an hour, or let them marinate in the fridge for a while and then allow them to return to slightly colder than room temperature before cooking; (4) for the couscous, toast those almond slivers at 415 degrees for about five to seven minutes, watching them carefully so that they don’t burn, and (5) serve with a luscious and juicy white wine like an Alsatian Hugel Pinot Blanc.


Casablanca Chicken

Golden Couscous


    Preheat the oven to 415 degrees.

    Step 1

    Dust the chicken thighs with the spices (pepper, sumac, turmeric and ginger). Let the thighs sit on the countertop for a half hour, or put them back in the refrigerator for a few hours. Just let them come to room temperature (or slightly colder than that) before cooking.

    Step 2

    Drizzle the olive oil over the chicken thighs. Add the other ingredients: the wine and the stock, the prunes, garlic, lemons, the bay leaves, and the brown sugar. Don't pour the wine and stock over the thighs but around them. Poke the cinnamon sticks in the casserole.

    Step 3

    Slide the casserole into a 415 degrees oven and bake for one hour. You can start the movie now.

    Step 4

    When the chicken is done, sprinkle the cilantro and almonds over the top. Serve over couscous.

    Step 5

    FOR THE COUSCOUS: Put the cup of water in the rice cooker, and pour in the raisins. Let them plump for a little while. Then, when you are ready to cook, add the couscous and the butter and the lemon juice. Let the rice cooker do its thing, then fluff with a fork and serve.

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