Saturday 19 April 2014

Grilled Moroccan Chicken with Steamed Vegetables and Couscous

I have been making excellent use of the Moroccan spice mixes that my coworker gave me. I just shared the spatchcocking technique so I had to do something with that chicken from the tutorial. Since spatchcock chicken is so perfect for grilling and we are finally getting some version of spring, I decided to barbecue it. The spice mix, from what I can make out, has turmeric, paprika, cumin, cinnamon and ginger. If you spatchcock your own chicken you can do whatever dry rub or sticky sauce you wish. To keep with the Moroccan feel I decided to make one of my go-to warm couscous salad combination of chopped nuts, dried fruit and two fresh herbs. This time I chopped almonds, added green raisins and fresh chopped cilantro and parsley. Instead of making a sauce, I decided to grill some caramelized lemon so that smokey, lemon juice could be squeezed at will. I already had broccoli in my fridge and I got my hands on some heirloom orange cauliflower so I decided to make a papillote out of foil and steam them on the grill with some onion, garlic, chili and seasoning. Turned out awesome and overall pretty healthy too!

If you haven't spatchcocked your chicken yet, scroll down or click here to see how it's done. I lightly massaged my chicken with olive oil and then seasoned with salt, pepper and a generous application of the Moroccan poultry spice mix that I mentioned before. Then I put it in a bag and left it to marinate overnight. If you don't have the luxury of preparing a night ahead, try to let your chicken marinate for at least a couple of hours. 


Just for fun, here is a shot of the broccoli and the heirloom cauliflower before I prepped them. 

I cut those into florets as well as an onion. I crushed and halved some cloves of garlic that were actually quite huge, and three small chilies leaving all of the seeds in for extra kick. I seasoned with salt, pepper, dried parsley, dried oregano, dried mint and sumac with a little butter and some coconut oil. I made a makeshift parcel out of aluminum foil to envelope all of that and I sealed it tight ensuring there was excess room in it for steam.

I also prepped a lemon by cutting it in half width wise and sprinkling the juicy flesh with a generous pinch of sugar. The sugar will do two things. When it comes into contact with the hot grill it will caramelize which will create a unique flavour and charred look. It will also counteract the extra bitterness that lemon tends to produce when it's cooked. It will only take 2 or 3 minutes on the grill to achieve this so best to do it at the end when the chicken is resting. 

I sprayed my grill with cooking spray and then preheated it to medium-high on one side. The thermometer read 400F/205C. I removed the chicken from the bag. The spice rub had saturated the exterior of the chicken and stained it with its goldenrod colour.

I placed the chicken on the grill breast side down on the opposite side of the grill from the heated part. The indirect heat will promote even cooking. Most of the cooking will take place on the backside. All we want is to give the breast side a head start with some lovely colour before the rest of the cooking is done through the other side. It needs to cook on the breast side for about 10 minutes. I recommend turning it 90 degrees five minutes into cooking to create a cross hatch design with the bars of the grill.

When your 10 minutes are up, turn the chicken onto its back side so that the breast is facing up. Cook the chicken for about 30 minutes or until the juices from the thickest part of the breast runs clear and it reads an internal temperature of 165F/74C. Be sure to move the chicken occasionally to prevent it from sticking to the grill. It is important that you let the chicken rest for 10 whole minutes before cutting into it to avoid losing all of the delicious juices.


Allow 25-30 minutes for the parcel of vegetables, depending on how you prefer your doneness. Place them on the hotter part of the grill next to the chicken when they go in. 

Here is an unnecessary but pleasurably gratuitous shot of the completed grilled chicken, fresh off the grill and resting... Mmmm....

When the chicken is busy looking gorgeous, place the sugared lemon halves down against the grill. If you're preparing this for a group, ensure that each plate gets half a lemon. Feel free to apply a little pressure on the lemon to promote a good sear but don't apply too much pressure or you'll lose all of your lemon juice and it will defeat the purpose. 

Keep an eye on them but 2 or 3 minutes should do it. You want the lemon to be slightly blackened in areas but still quite juicy. 

Then serve with steamy, fluffy couscous and you're all set! This dish was very scrumptious, inexpensive to put together and overall quite healthy. Even if you don't use a Moroccan based marinade I still recommend you try the caramelized lemon trick. The lemon juice takes on such an interesting flavour. It becomes smokey and satisfying and the sugar really counteracts any extra bitterness that the lemon would have taken on while it was being cooked. A good squeeze of that stuff all over the chicken and the florets was incredible. I am placing a big seal of approval stamp on that. With summer around the corner it's always great to find new and exciting things to cook on the grill. Maybe spatchcock chicken with caramelized grilled lemon will be on your menu this summer. :)

Even if you don't try this, I am hope you enjoyed the post. I certainly enjoyed going over the photos. lol! There's something about grilled chicken... crispy on the outside, hot and juicy on the inside and just begging to fall off the bone. It satisfies a nerve like none other. 

I have a couple of posts coming up in the next week and a bit that I'm very excited about but it's a surprise so you'll have to come back and see what it is.

In the meantime, take care and keep cooking!


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