One of the things I love about living in Philadelphia is the fact that the city has a deep well of secrets. No matter how many years I log in the City of Brotherly Love, I find that there’s always something new to discover.
In the neighborhood just north of South Street, there’s a Moroccan restaurant that you’ll never find on your own. Hidden behind an unmarked door, you walk off a residential street and into a world of lush fabrics, pillowed benches and low tables set with brass trays.
I’ve eaten there a few times since a friend first helped me find that hidden door. I love every part of the experience, from the ritual of washing hands to the fact that the meal moves slowly. However, most of all, I love a chicken dish they serve. Baked in phyllo dough, it’s highly spiced with ginger and cinnamon. The outside is dusted with sugar, so that you get sweet, savory and spicy all in a single bite.
Though it’s been years since I’ve had that chicken, I still crave it. However, a meal that lasts 2 1/2 hours doesn’t fit into my schedule as easily as it once did. I’m in that stage of life where most of my friends have small children, and though I love dining with my husband, you really need a group to make the most of a meal like this one.
So I’ve been searching for a recipe that can get me similar flavors to those that I so miss. Happily, with the discovery of Guy Fieri’s recipe for Moroccan Chicken With Shredded Cabbage and Tahini Sauce on Pita, I feel like I’ve gotten close. It’s not baked in phyllo dough (which is actually a plus as I find it insufferably fussy to work with), but it has the same rich flavors.
Paired with couscous, a salad of tomatoes and cucumber and plenty of pita bread, it’s a tasty way to travel without boarding an airplane and is perfect for The Weekender.
Before you marinate your chicken, here are a few things you should know:
– Guy has you marinate your chicken in a dry spice blend for an hour before cooking. I did mine in the morning and let it rest for the better part of the day without issue.
– The recipe calls for 3-4 pounds of legs and thighs. My husband is a white-meat-only kind of guy and so I added a couple of breasts to the mix. Because it’s such a moist cooking environment, they did just fine.
– Don’t skip the yogurt and tahini sauce. You can find tahini in the peanut butter aisle in most grocery stores.
– Save your leftovers. A night in the fridge does this chicken good.
Marisa McClellan is a food writer and canning teacher who lives in Center City Philadelphia. Find more of her food (all cooked up in her 80-square-foot kitchen) at her blog, Food in Jars. Her first cookbook, also called Food in Jars, will be published by Running Press in May 2012.