I made this full-flavored Moroccan dish when we were dreaming of a family trip to Morocco. (Currently still a dream trip!) It was amazing to be able to create a tagine-like dish using a slow cooker. My husband actually often asks me if I “need” a tagine. 🙂
This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Sarah DiGregorio. I increased the amount of garlic and served the chicken over Israeli couscous with sautéed kale on the side. The chicken was falling-off-of-the-bone tender. Wonderful!
Yield: Serves 6 to 8
Time: 4 1/2 to 6 1/2 hours
- 1 medium (2 to 2 1/2 pound) butternut squash, peeled, halved lengthwise, seeded and cut into 3-inch-by-1-inch wedges
- 8 pitted dates, such as Medjool, halved
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 (3-inch) cinnamon stick
- 2 teaspoons sweet paprika
- 1 ½ teaspoons turmeric
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- ½ teaspoon hot smoked paprika
- ½ teaspoon ground ginger
- ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 2 T canola oil
- 3 ½ to 4 pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs, trimmed (I used 8 thighs)
- 1 large red onion, finely chopped
- ¼ cup minced ginger (from about a 4-inch piece peeled ginger)
- 6 to 8 large garlic cloves, minced
- ¼ cup lemon juice (from about 1 large lemon), plus more to taste
- leaves of 1 small bunch flat-leaf parsley, chopped
- 4 scallions, thinly sliced
- cooked couscous or pita for serving, optional (I used Israeli couscous)
- plain yogurt, for topping, optional (I used 2% Greek yogurt)
- toasted slivered almonds, for topping, optional
- Finely chop the onion in a food processor; set aside. Mince the ginger and garlic in a food processor; set aside.
- Put the squash wedges and pitted dates into a 6- to 8-quart slow cooker. Season generously with salt and pepper.
- In a small bowl, combine the cinnamon stick, sweet paprika, turmeric, cumin, hot smoked paprika, ground ginger, cloves and cayenne and set aside.
- Warm the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
- Pat the chicken dry and season it generously with salt.
- Working in two batches, put the chicken in the skillet skin side down and cook without moving it until the skin is deeply golden, crisp, and releases fairly easily from the bottom of the pan, about 5 to 8 minutes per batch. (You need to brown only the skin side.) Transfer the chicken to the slow cooker, nestling the thighs skin side up and in one crowded layer on top of the squash.
- Decrease the stovetop heat to medium. If there is a lot of rendered fat in the pan, pour off all but a thin layer to cover the entire bottom of the skillet. Add the onion, season with salt, and cook, stirring to scrape up the browned bits on the bottom of the pan, until the onion is softened, about 5 minutes.
- Add the ginger and garlic, and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute.
- Add the reserved spices and stir well for about 30 seconds, until the mixture is a uniform brick red.
- Add the lemon juice, stir well to incorporate the browned bits, then scrape the mixture over the top of the chicken, making sure to include any spice-stained oil that remains.
- Cook on low until the squash and chicken are very tender and the flavors are mellow, at least 4 hours and up to 6 hours. If it’s more convenient, you can let the slow cooker switch to warm after 6 hours. The dish will hold on warm for another 2 hours before the chicken starts to dry out.
- Remove and discard the cinnamon stick. Add additional lemon juice and salt, to taste, and fold in the chopped parsley and scallions.
- Serve with couscous or pita, topped with yogurt and toasted almonds, as desired.