Moroccan Saffron Chicken
This recipe uses a good amount of saffron, which comes from the crocus flower. Even though saffron has a somewhat bitter taste – almost metallic at times – and smells a little like fresh hay, it has been widely traded and used for almost 4,000 years. The Moroccans knew a good thing when they first got it. Now we can too.
12 chicken breasts, boneless and skinless
4 cups chicken broth
3 cups yellow onions, peeled, halved, and sliced thinly
2 salted and preserved lemons that were prepared the previous month, diced
½ cup butter
½ cup sunflower oil
1 tablespoon garlic, minced
1 tablespoon Spanish sweet paprika
1 teaspoon saffron threads (see Retailer’s List)
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon salt or more to taste
¼ cup cilantro, chopped for garnish (or mixed in the dish, or both)
Prepare the chicken breasts by rinsing, patting dry and removing any additional fat. Piece them into two chunks or, if extra large, cut them into three pieces.
In a small pan melt 2 tablespoons of the butter and sauté the garlic and onions until translucent, and set aside. In a large frying pan add the oil to coat the bottom of the pan and bring up to a gentle heat. Sprinkle a little of the turmeric, paprika and salt in the bottom of the pan and place each of the chicken pieces topside down. Cook to medium brown, turning over to make sure each chicken piece is cooked all the way through.
In a large saucepan heat the chicken broth. Add the onion mixture, the paprika, saffron, turmeric, cumin, ginger and cinnamon, 1 cup of diced preserved lemon, and simmer for 15 minutes. Plate the chicken on a large serving platter, add the chicken drippings to the sauce, and pour the sauce over the chicken. Garnish with fresh cilantro.
This is the perfect offering for Hadit because of its color, its attributes, and flavor. Butter is of water. The chicken meat is earth of air, and the chicken broth is water of earth of air. Turmeric is air of fire, unless you can find it fresh, and then it is all of fire. The cilantro, cinnamon, cumin, garlic, and ginger, olive oil, paprika, and saffron are all of fire, and the onion is water of fire. The salted and preserved lemons are fire of water. Chicken has the magical correspondence of fertility and is said to promote wellbeing, and in this recipe the chicken takes on the beautiful bright yellow color that is dedicated to Hadit.