Breaking in Our Creuset Casserole

16 Jan

So my wonderful, fabulous brother Scott bought us a caribbean blue Le Creuset casserole for the holidays.  Up until now we’ve been too busy to break it in, but tonight was the night.  I looked around online for some inspiration, ideas, and recipes, and happened upon a post for Moroccan chicken with lemon and olives. I pondered how to edit the recipe, omitting the whole chicken or chicken thighs, while Chris begged me to give him some dark meat.  In the end, I had to admit that slow cooking breasts just wouldn’t have the same result.  I ran to the store for some missing ingredients, ran back for my credit card (doh!), ran back to the store to buy the items, and returned home with roughly 2 lbs of chicken thighs (secretly hoping that slow cooking would fix the texture/bone issue that I have with such meat).

At about 5 pm, I mixed together the spices (paprika, cumin, tumeric, ginger, and pepper), rubbed them into the thighs and let them sit for an hour while I baked banana cupcakes for dessert.  While I dealt with the chicken and cupcakes, my amazing sous-chef did all the prep work – shaking garlic between two bowls to peel it (Shake Garlic To Peel – such a man!), dicing the garlic, chopping the onion (and crying), chopping the parsley and cilantro, and slicing the lemons.

After an hour of sitting in the spices, I warmed a couple of tablespoons of olive oil in the casserole and browned the chicken (skin side down).  After browning the chicken, Chris insisted that we use our new pasta tongs to flip the chicken before adding the garlic and onions.  We then covered the casserole and let it cook on medium low for about 15 minutes.  Chris claimed that the heavy lid wouldn’t let anything get out, but a fast column of steam blew through one side of the pot.  Chris jumped to the rescue, adjusting the lid and minimizing the escaping air.

While the chicken sat cooking, I took the lemons (artfully sliced by Chris) and cooked them slowly in olive oil, salt and sugar.  This would serve as a substitute for the otherwise seven-day endeavor of preserving the lemon for the dish.

We finally added the remaining ingredients, pitted green olives, raisin, and our substitute for preserved lemons,  to the casserole, covered the pot, lowered the heat, and let it slow cook for another 30 minutes.

We placed the chicken over some pine nut couscous and added cilantro and parsley as a final touch – a forgotten afterthought in actuality.  We sat down with our plates and the remaining cook’s juice (an unlabeled bottle of red wine made by none other than Chris’ dad).  The meal was tender and flavorful (and the meat was easy to cut away from the bone without any globs of fat left to ruin the texture!).  This one will definitely be filed away for a repeat performance :).

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