Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Spicy Spanish Chicken in Moorish Spiced Sauce

Spanish Chicken in Sauce with Couscous

This is a must-try, deliciously unique and easy Spanish chicken in sauce with Moorish spices: coriander, cinnamon, and nutmeg! You will love the spiciness of the cayenne mixed with the subtle after effect of the warm spices layered together in the sauce.  What a delicious flavor profile!    I was so anxious to dig into this after smelling the sauce cooking for almost an hour that the picture of the final result does not do this recipe justice.  Try it and decide for will love it!

I was inspired to create this based on a Spanish tapas recipe for Albondigas in spicy tomato sauce, which I love!  I was thinking that the sauce would be so great with chicken and couscous and I have to say that this dish is a winner! 

The Moors had a strong influence on Spanish cuisine, bringing the spices of nutmeg, cinnamon, and saffron with them to Spain.  This Spanish chicken sauce is spiced with coriander, cumin, and a dash of cinnamon and nutmeg.  The result is a deliciously unique dish with the subtle favors of the warm spices underlying the initial heat of the cayenne pepper. 

 I know you will agree that this is a keeper!  The only thing I would change is to use bone-in chicken thighs next time, which would mean a longer simmering time but would add even more exquisite flavor to this dish. 

Chicken preparation:
4 boneless skinless chicken thighs
1 tbsp olive oil
Ground cumin, garlic powder, salt and fresh ground black pepper

Sprinkle both sides of the chicken pieces with the cumin, garlic powder, salt and pepper.
Heat oil on medium high heat and place chicken in pan to sear.  Sear the chicken on both side, about 2 minutes per side or just until lightly browned (not cooked through).  Set chicken aside on a plate while you prepare the sauce.

Ingredients for the sauce:
1 yellow onion, chopped (about 1 1/2 cups)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 can (14.5 oz) stewed diced tomatoes
1/2 cup dry white wine (I used Chardonnay)
1/2 cup chicken broth
3-4 tsp tomato sauce (plain)
1/2 can (15oz) sweet green peas
1/2 tsp ground cayenne pepper
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1 pinch ground cinnamon
1 pinch ground nutmeg
Fresh ground black pepper
Salt to taste
In the same pan used to sear the chicken, use the remaining olive oil to sauté the onions.  Add a bit more olive oil if necessary and cook the onion until translucent and soft.  Then add the garlic and a few grinds of black pepper and cook for another minute.  Make sure you don't burn the garlic as it will become bitter if cooked too long.

Add the wine and increase the heat to high.  Let the wine boil for about 2 minutes, scraping the bottom of the pan as it cooks (to get the lovely crusty bits mixed into the sauce).  Add the can of tomatoes, the tomato sauce and the chicken broth. 

Stir in the cayenne, cumin, coriander, nutmeg and cinnamon until well blended.  Bring back to a boil and stir in a few grinds of fresh salt.  Place the chicken in the pan with the sauce, spooning sauce over the chicken to cover as much as possible. 

Spanish Chicken in Moorish Spiced Sauce

Cover and simmer on low to medium low for 20 minutes or until chicken is cooked through.  If using bone-in chicken thighs, simmering time will be longer- 35-40 minutes.  Remove the lid and then add the peas the the sauce.  Simmer uncovered for 10 minutes, increasing the heat a bit in order to thicken up the sauce. 
Serve with a side of couscous.  I used plain couscous cooked with chicken broth instead of water, but a store bought mix would be just fine.  I like to ladle a good bit of the sauce over the couscous and the chicken after I plate it up!  This dish would also be excellent with a side of fried, sliced potatoes.