Djej Mechoui (Morrocan Spiced Chicken)

ParsleyI do like a simple cook. With a 2 year old and an 8 week old my brain can only do so much. More the point, time is astonishingly limited (whoever said daily showering was a necessity). This is one of those.

I’m also a cheap cheap cheap tight-arse mofo who takes great pride in sticking it to the man. The man in this case is supermarkets and the ridonc price they charge to sell you cuts of chicken. How can a chicken thigh cost $15 a kilo yet the whole chicken cost $3 per kilo. That appallingly paid factory worker cutting the damn thing up is not getting paid the difference, that’s for sure. So to that end, I buy whole and break it down myself. Which also makes me feel smug as a human being because I feel like a real cook. Cracking through a bone is a powerful move. Also, I have no income, so you know, I’m cheap.

Warning – this is not a pristine cooking process. You will walk away from this process feeling slightly disturbed, and your hands will be rather messy, but your tastebuds will thank you later.

Ingredients

  • 3 spring onions
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled
  • A lady-sized handful of fresh coriander (leaves only)
  • A lady-sized handful of  fresh parsley (leaves only)
  • 1 pinch of salt (I used smoked salt because I have some on hand. Go with whatever you have).
  • 1 12 tsp sweet paprika*
  • 1 pinch hot paprika (or substitute with smoky paprika)*
  • 25g cumin seeds (or use ground if you like but for 2 minutes effort it’s worth it)
  • 250g butter, soft
  • 1 whole chicken (2kg), or 1kg of thigh pieces (bone-in and skin-on)

* ok your supermarket brand paprika in a tiny jar is fairly tasteless – you may as well throw ground cardboard in there. Go to a good deli or providore and get a quality paprika in a tin. The flavour is incomparable. It’s worth the extra trip.

Gear

  • Thermomix
  • Frypan
  • Mortar & pestle
  • Paper towel
  • 2 roasting tins (remove the rack if it has one) or 1 giant one

Method

  1. Break down your chicken into 8 pieces.
  2. Clean out any gross bits and using paper towel, dry the bejesus out of each piece of chicken. The more dry it is, the better your butter will cling and the crispier your skin will be
  3. Drop the cumin seeds into the dry frypan and toast on medium heat till fragrant
  4. Grind the seeds in your mortar & pestle
  5. Into the thermomix mixing bowl, drop the spring onion, garlic, coriander, parsley, salt, both paprikas, and cumin and chop 10 secs / speed 9
  6. Add the butter and whip 10 secs / speed 4
  7. Take large wodges of your herby spicy butter and massage it suggestively into your pieces of chicken. Get your fingers in under the skin and work it in. Keep going, we want that thing buttery to the core. You won’t use all the butter – about half of it. Pop the rest into a cling wrap sausage and freeze it for use later (garlic bread, steak, veges, whatever!)
  8. Set aside for at least half an hour, but I recommend overnight (in the fridge obviously) where possible. The longer the better.
  9. Preheat the oven to 200˚ c/190˚c fan-forced
  10. Put the roasting tins into the oven to get hot
  11. If it’s been in the fridge for a while take it out half an hour before cooking to get the chill out of the chicken (otherwise you end up with under-cooked chicken in the centre, or over-cooked chicken in the outer)
  12. Take the tins from the oven and drizzle a little oil in the base of the tin to stop the chicken sticking
  13. Place your chicken into the tins and cook in the oven for 20-30 minutes. If using 2 tins, I do the thighs and drumsticks in one tray and the breasts in the other – that way I can leave the breasts in a little longer.
  14. Baste in the melty butter at about half time.
  15. The chicken should be 165˚ in the centre when cooked.
  16. Serve with a flavoursome herb & pomegranate couscous.

 

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