Moroccan Spiced Chicken and Redhead Kate

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Rewind one week. Hutchmoot 2010, there is much bustle and chatter in the sunshine-yellow kitchen…Saturday evening’s Moroccan Spiced Chicken, not to mention many other tasty foodly items, would not have come off in as timely or seamless a manner if not for one…(kindly insert lively drumroll)…Redhead Kate.

Our acquaintance began with a string of emails about baking ingredients and an offer of a suitcase full of sweet potatoes. “Good thing I’m traveling Southwest!” she said, since two pieces of luggage are allowed, bless that airline’s heart. I knew I liked this girl, a real thinker, expeditious.ย She works for her family’s sweet potato company in North Carolina and brought with her quite a large box of the beauties as well as a deep, wide knowledge of the product. She laughed as she watched the gems get run through the dishwasher before roasting. Nothing but the best, cleanest sweet potatoes for our guests.

So Kate showed up on Thursday evening, donned an adorable apron she brought along, and got right to work. (Oh, if anyone wanted brownie recipes, she’s the one to ask.) She baked while simultaneously helping Pete with registration matters and making merch lists and such. Truth be told, I’m not sure exactly what it is she was doing, but she did it well and without fuss.

Her genuine laugh, her easy manner in the kitchen, her calming tone when I was about to lose my cool while getting ready for service, they were all ways in which I was blessed to the bone by her presence last weekend. In preparation for Saturday morning’s breakfast, I was thrilled by her lovely arrangement of the meat and cheese plates (which I usually have a hard time delegating because I don’t think anyone will actually do it to my standards). Her lovely little landscape of gently curled slices of ham and her asymmetrical placement of cheese wedges pleased my discerning eye. What a God-send she was, in so many respects and in the most literal sense of that word. God sent her directly to my kitchen, armed with understanding, a cool head, humor, and love for the craft. She spoke my language, finished my sentences, read my mind. Miraculous, that.

Now, for the chicken. (No drumroll really necessary.) I’m going to share a slightly different way to do it, for one chicken, since I doubt very seriously that you’ll be making 40 of them.

Preheat oven to 425. Ready a roasting pan or oven-proof skillet large enough to cradle the dear chicken without crowding the pieces (we want crisped skin, not the steamed, slimy sort…gross.). Rinse thoroughly and pat dry (I mean really dry) one whole chicken, cut up.

In a large mixing bowl combine:

1/4 cup olive oil

the zest and juice of one lemon

3 cloves of fresh garlic, finely chopped

2 tsp. of fresh ginger, grated (a microplane or fine grater will do the trick)

2 tsp. each of chili powder, cumin, cinnamon, coriander, kosher salt

Add the chicken pieces to the heady, fragrant mix which now resides in your bowl. By the way, make sure you cut the breast pieces in half, crossways, since they’re always so gigantic…those poor chickens, having to heave those breasts around the barnyard/crate/what-have-you. Zhoosh them around in the paste mix, cover and let it loiter in the fridge for a few hours if you can, but if you can’t, it’ll still be mighty tasty.

If you have planned accordingly and therefore have had time to let it sit in the Frigidaire, you’ll now need about 30-45 more minutes to let the chicken hang out in its bowl on the counter. It needs to shake off the chill, relax a bit. Putting it straight in the oven would be kind of like how you feel when you walk out of your meat-lockerish, air-conditioned homes these days in Nashville into the searing, eyeball-melting heat. No one likes that feeling, not even a dead chicken. Be kind to your product.

Scrape off any larger chunks of garlic (since it quickly burns and turns bitter) and arrange the chicken pieces in the roasting pan, skin side up. Roast in the upper-half region of your oven for somewhere in the neighborhood of an hour. Meanwhile, your house will smell like very heaven, and it will be hard (I speak from experience) to resist opening the over door frequently to steal little bits of crispy skin. Deny this urge its power. The oven wants to maintain its level of heating excellence. The skin should be golden brown and sizzly when it comes out, and there should be some real gorgeous Chicken-y love swimming around down in the bottom of the roasting pan. Aw come on, who am I kidding? If you’re game enough to make this chicken, you are probably the sort of person who knows when a chicken is done. Let her rest for a bit after coming out of the oven, the juices need time to meander back to their rightful spots.

Et voila! You’re done, and so is the chicken. So now it’s time to eat…with your hands. No forks allowed. Let the spiced oil and juices run down your wrists and drip onto the other residents of your dinner plate, it makes for a much more sensually fulfilling affair. A little finger bowl on the table next to each place setting is nice for sticky fingers. Fill small reservoirs of your choosing with an inch of water, an ice cube and a sprig of fresh mint or sprinkling of fennel seeds. It’s the little extravagances, you know.

Here’s a similar version of this dish from my blog, for those of you who like to experiment.


22 Comments

  1. andrew mackay

    I am so excited about this recipe. I feel a little bit like a little girl about it. I squealed when I saw the post.

    I know, I know, how embarassing.

    The Hutchmoot food was unbelievable Evie. You and your helpers knocked it out of the park.

    I’m off to add random ingredients to my wife’s grocery list.

  2. LauraP

    Dear Lord, thank you for Evie. Who else could share a recipe and make it sound like poetry? And for Redhead Kate and her lovely sweet potatoes and humble service rendered behind the scenes in that adorable apron. Amen

  3. Dieta

    I was looking for dinnertime inspiration, and viola! Evie has provided just the thing. This maybe more than anything else writen about the Hutch makes me so sorry to have missed it. Just goes to show you what a shameless foodie I am. Thanks Evie!:)

  4. Matthew Clark

    Wow, the breakfast was especially fantastic that morning! I love the cheeses, Gromit! All the food was amazing. I was a lunch ‘lady’ once for a whole Summer in Memphis, TN so I especially appreciate that you washed the potatoes in the dishwasher! HA!

    Evie, I love your artwork and it is easy to see how your love of craft extends to your kitchen and your crafting of food and hospitality. Thanks so much for all your and your team did at Hutchmoot!

  5. Heather R

    Mmmmmmmm. After reading that recipe, I don’t think it would be possible to resist making it even if I hadn’t tasted the results before. Thanks for sharing it!

  6. Dieta

    OK Ms. Evie-I have just watched a family of five devour with great relish an entire bird, and then ask why I had not roasted two. Thank you so much for sharing. I had to miss the Hutch and this gave me a taste of what I missed-literally. I adore your art and now your cooking, too. Bon Apetit!

  7. Christy Robb

    Sweet Evie,

    THANK YOU!! This makes me so happy! I’ve talked about this chicken almost as much was Wangerin’s talk ๐Ÿ˜‰

  8. whipple

    I say, dear lady, you should write recipe books. I rarely use them by the letter of the law (being a mad scientist of sorts in the kitchen), but I love to read them, and your culinary prose does wonders for the spirit.

    “meat-lockerish” and “Chicken-y love”…

    Fabulous.

  9. redheadkate

    Thank you. This made me feel very special. I loved every minute helping at Hutchmoot. *you will have to imagine the southern accent that goes along with my words.*

  10. meredith

    Evie and Kate, I am looking forward to using this recipe as my parents and brother will be weekend guests in our home. My mouth is watering just reading your beautifully written recipe.

    Also, I must ask if you have seen the movie, Babett’s Feast? It is an old movie. I think it is from the mid-80’s. It is a wondrous tale about the art of preparing food selflessly with grace and beauty as a love gift. As I have read the many comments about the food and both of you, this movie comes to mind.

  11. Heather R

    There were several times Hutchmoot weekend that “Babette’s Feast” came to my mind. It’s a short story by Isek Dinesen. If you haven’t read it, you absolutely must; there is no way around it. The story is about a hurting community, food that is so good it can bring healing, and self-sacrifice. It is also a beautiful picture of Christ written by (I think) a non-believer.
    Story, community, and food. That’s what the ‘moot was all about.

  12. Elisabeth

    I love the story about the sweet potatoes! Although I’ve never heard of running vegetables though the dishwasher to clean them before … ๐Ÿ™‚

  13. Tony Heringer

    God bless “redheadkate” and Evie too! They certainly made Hutchmoot a most excellent time.

    I second the need a “food” tab on this page, this however, is not Inkling pub grub by any stretch of the imagination.

  14. Michelle

    Thank you Evie for the wonderful food and thanks Kate, too, because I know it makes a world of difference when you have a difficult task in front of you, even if its one that you love, if you have a friend by your side to share the burden. Thanks to both of you, and thanks Evie for the recipe. I’m looking forward to giving this one a whirl!

  15. Anonymous

    […] store and picked up two handmade coffee mugs and a stack of beloved new and used books. And the food … the food was out of this world, catered by artist/chef Evie Coates, who made every dish […]

  16. Kim Watkins

    Yippee for the little extravagances. And if this is half as much fun to cook as the recipe is to read, we’re in for a treat.

  17. Lanier Ivester

    Evie, you were a God-send to me this weekend, girlfriend. ๐Ÿ™‚ I was having a special family dinner on Friday and all I wanted to serve was your Moroccan chicken. I scoured my cookbooks and old issues of Bon Appetit trying to find the like, but to no avail. Philip actually texted me en route to the grocery to let me know you’d posted the recipe and then proceeded to read the ingredients to me over the phone as I scratched out my previous list! ๐Ÿ˜‰
    And what a hit it was! My kitchen was still fragrant the next morning with all the spicey gorgeousness…tied up with memories of the ‘Moot. (And your ‘Till I Reach Home’ was a hit, as well, proudly hung over the kitchen mantle and ranged about with battered old English pewter pieces. LOVE it dearly…)
    Thanks to you and Kate for all your love in the kitchen during Hutchmoot. You made the weekend a true celebration of God’s beauty and bounty.

  18. Rea

    I tried this recipe last week! It was the first time I had ever oven baked chicken before! It turned out fabulous! Thanks for posting it! As a side dish, I cooked some lentils with carrots, coconut milk, curry and maple syrup. It was a nice contrast.

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