One of my first “homemade” Moroccan meals (before that time I had eaten in Moroccan tourist restaurants that were bad!) was a roast chicken stuffed with spices and vermicelli noodles. To this day it still is one of my favorite things. Unlike many Middle Eastern cultures Moroccans don’t have a big tradition of stuffing things. Things like stuffed grape leaves, kibbeh, and other stuffed vegetables that are common in the Levant are just not part of the repatoire in Morocco. What was interesting as I began this exploration of Moroccan Jewish food is that stuffing food is more common than with the Arab dishes. This might be part of historical culture or just what was passed on. I don’t really know. As you’ll see later this week with dafina, the idea of stuffing exists with that recipe as well.
I cooked this dish on Sunday when we were being blanketed with nearly a foot of snow. Everyone was stuck inside and it made perfect sense to me to turn the oven on for a roast chicken. I found this idea in the cookbook I mentioned in my introductory post but strayed from some of the steps and ingredients to fit what I had on hand. The one thing I did discover in creating this recipe was my love for tarragon. Seriously where have you been all my life?!?! I’m so excited to experiment with this herb. One other note, I made this gluten free. The original recipe calls for matzo and bread crumbs – you can of course use either or both. I however used Glutino gluten-free table crackers for the stuffing. They resembled the taste of matzo very closely even though I was expecting something closer to a saltine when I bought the package.
- 1 whole chicken
- 1 cup blanched almonds
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 sprigs tarragon
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1 medium onion
- 2 carrots
- 1 granny smith apple
- 1 hard boiled egg
- 3-4 springs basil
- 1 1/2 cups ground matzo
- 1/2 stick butter
- 1 egg
- 3/4 c chicken broth
- Preheat oven to 375F
- Wash and clean the chicken very well, taking extra care to clean out the cavity. Do not remove the skin!
- Peel the carrots, garlic, onion, and apple, and egg and roughly chop all of them.
- In a food processor add all of the above plus the almonds, tarragon, salt and basil and pulse until broken down. You can blend them until they are completely broken apart or leave in larger chunks.
- Pour the ground matzo into a large bowl.
- Combine the mixture from the food processor to the matzo and stir to incorporate.
- Break the egg and mix it into the stuffing.
- Cut the 1/2 stick of butter into small cubes and gently mix with the stuffing.
- Place the chicken into a roasting pan. If you don't have a roasting pan, I found that using a large oven proof pot works just as well.
- Gently separate the skin of the chicken from the flesh.
- Begin stuffing by adding a layer of stuffing between the skin and flesh. Smooth out as much as possible.
- Do this in as many places as possible.
- Add the remaining stuffing to the interior cavity of the chicken.
- Pour the 3/4 cup of chicken broth into the pot/pan.
- Slide the pot/pan into the preheated oven and bake for 60-90 minutes. The baking time is going to depend on how large your chicken is. You want the juice to run clear and for there to be no pinkness in the meat.
- The outside of the skin should be brown and crisp and the interior juicy.
- Serve hot with a side salad and/or potatoes.