Moorish Chicken (Pollo Moruna)

The combination of dried fruit and meat was wide-spread in the kitchens of well-off Moors in 13th, 14th and 15th century al-Andalus – the Arab name for the part of the Iberian Peninsula that was conquered by the Moors.  We confess that the addition of Spanish pimentón, made from red peppers which arrived from America in the 16th century, makes this a slightly modernized version of the 800 year old recipe. This was the second recipe we prepared in my cooking workshop “Saint Martha’s Hearth.”

Serves 8

Ingredients

4.5 lbs chicken cut into chunks (you can use boneless, skinless breasts)

¼ cup olive oil

Salt and Pepper

1 cup slivered almonds

½ cup olive oil

5 Vidalia onions cut into thin slices

1 small red chili pepper left whole

2 Tablespoon Spanish Smokey Pimentón

1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground black pepper

2 cups water

1 bay leaf

1 cup raisins

2 Tablespoons honey

2 Tablespoons Balsamic vinegar

Modern Directions

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.

2. Wash and dry chicken.  Season with salt and pepper.

3. In a large (stove and oven proof) casserole dish, heat on the stovetop ¼ cup olive oil until shimmering.  Brown the chicken pieces in batches and set aside on a plate.

4. To the same large casserole dish, add the Spanish Pimentón, cinnamon and black pepper. Heat the spices on low heat, then add water and bay leaf.

5. Return chicken to the casserole dish, bring to simmer. Then place in the oven and bake covered for 60 minutes.

6. While chicken is baking, in a heavy bottomed frying pan heat ½ C. olive oil until shimmering. Add almonds and toast on low heat for 5 minutes until browned. Set almonds aside on a plate.

7. Add onions and the chili pepper to the same heavy bottomed frying pan. Sauté 20 minutes until onions have caramelized.

8. To the caramelized onions, add the almonds, raisins, honey, and vinegar. Discard the chili pepper.

9. Remove chicken from the oven. Stir in the onions, almonds, and raisins mixture. Set the combined dish aside to sit for at least 15 minutes to allow the flavors to meld.

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One Response to “Moorish Chicken (Pollo Moruna)”

  1. […] I am happy that she agrees to do them. We try to show something different every year. In the past, Pollo Moruna was one we […]

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