Chicken Tajine Chermoula – Conquered!

So I was in NYC visiting friends a few weeks ago and I got a chance to go to one of my favourite places to eat there, a fantastic Moroccan restaurant called Cafe Mogador.  On their menu there is a dish called Chicken Tajine with Chermoula sauce that is a piece of culinary perfection. Numerous times during my meal I had a strong urge to face-plant myself into my plate, yes that’s how good it was!  This time when I was enjoying the dish I promised myself to try and make it when I get back, which brings us to last night.  I finally decided to give it a go and see how close I can get to Café Mogador’s magic.  Yes I am ware, delusions of gastronomic grandeur!  The secret to the dish’s moist, tender and perfectly seasoned chicken are two things.  First, cooking it in a Tajine.  Second and even more important, the delicious Chermoula sauce!  Tajine is special earthenware pot that is used in Morocco and Tunisia, however it is not an absolute requirement for this dish.  You can do a perfectly good job in a regular pot, which is what I used.  To make the Chermoula you are going to need the following.

Chermoula Marinade:

  • 2-3 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • Juice of 1 to 1 ½ lemons
  • 2 onions chopped
  • 1tbsp sweet or smoked paprika
  • 1tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 -2 bird’s eye or cayenne or green chili pepper (depending on your own preference)
  • 1 cup of chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 cup of chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
  • ½ cup of olive oil
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1tsp of ginger
  • 1tsp of turmeric

Rest of the ingredients:

  • 4-6 chicken thighs (depending on serving size)
  • 5-10 fingerling potatoes – peeled
  • ½ cup of pitted green olives
  • 2 cups of reduced salt chicken stock
  • 1 tomato chopped (optional)
  • Pinch of saffron – dissolved in a little warm water

Process all the marinade ingredients in a food processor until finally chopped and almost a paste like consistency is formed.  Wash and dry chicken, remove excess fat and leave in chermoula marinate for at least 2 hours and up to overnight.  You don’t really want to let it marinade longer than overnight since the acid and salt in the marinade can chemically cook the chicken, and nobody is into chicken ceviche.

Chicken in chermoula marinate ready to go into the fridge!

After marinating, pour the entire mixture (chicken & chermoula) into your pot, add tomatoes (if using any), add potatoes, pour in the chicken stock, pour in saffron mixture,  put on the lid and put the stove on a medium heat and bring to boil.  When it gets to a boil reduce heat and let it simmer for 40-50 minutes (I left the little breathing hole on the pot lid open to also slightly reduce and thicken the liquid while simmering.  Now take the lid off add the olives and cook for another 10-15 until the liquid is reduced to a desired consistency, the reason I don’t add the olives earlier is because I don’t want to them to become too mushy, but that is a personal preference.  It is important to taste during this process; if the chermoula is reduced too much the flavour can get very concentrated, making your food too salty.

Empty out the pot into a dish and serve your chicken chermoula with either rice or couscous.

Done!

Democrats Victorious Over Republicans On The Social-Media Front!

If you are like me even though you don’t live in the United States you have been anxiously following the American elections.  After all, the policies that are dictated in United States, and especially the foreign policies, are echo through-out the world.  Also, as a Liberal I am abhorred by what is going on with United States right now, the deterioration of their middle-class is in my opinion a national – dare I say global crisis.  Lower disposable income for Americans can affect many countries that are involved in heavy trade with them; definitely not good for us Canadians.

During the past week I have been following the speeches in both Democrat & Republican national conventions and I have to say I thought the caliber of speeches, delivery, and just the excitement in the air that existed during the DNC was head and shoulders above what was happening at RNC.  Now I might have a biased opinion do to my left-wing political leanings, so when I found some hard data confirming what I felt I was very excited and wanted to share this with you guys.  A company out of Cambridge Massachusetts called Bluefin that specializes in social-TV analytics has been tracking the social-media response to both of the telecasts, here are some very interesting results:

via Ad-Age

via Ad-Age

Bluefin tracked social media response to the campaigns via Twitter and public Facebook posts.  As you can see the numbers speak for themselves,  the Democratic convention reached 5 million comments during 4.5 hours spread over three nights – about 2.5 times the comments the Republican convention got based on the same amount of time.  In fact, the last night of the DNC with speeches by Vice President Joe Biden and President Barak Obama was the most socially charged night of the entire 2012 political season, reaching 2.5 million social-media comments in a 90 minute time span.  According to Mike Guigli of Bluefin, that one specific night was more social than all three nights of the GOP convention.  As time goes on and social-media meshes even more with our daily lives, it would interesting to see how well can pre-election social-media response/engagement and sentiment analysis predict the outcome of an election.  I am aware that perhaps right now the active social-media user demographics  favours the Democrats, taking into account age and education level (Ops! did I say that? Yes I did!), but as time goes on and we all become fully connected the data will become more reliable.  As for this election, lets hope that results seen above translate into the voting booths and the American middle-class gets a chance to shine once more!

[Source: Ad Age]