Sunday, 21 December 2008

Moroccan Mango Chicken

NAME: _Moroccan Mango Chicken

500g - 1kg chicken meat
2 or 3 barely ripe mangoes (depending on the size of them, may only need 1 or 2)
1 medium white onion
1 - 2 orange sweet potatoes
several cupfuls mashed orange sweet potato
about 1 - 2cm chunk of palm sugar
1 cup reduced chicken stock
2 tbsp Moroccan spice mix
2 tbsp rice bran oil (or use peanut oil if you want that flavour)
1 egg
1 tbsp milk


Slice the onion thinly and fry in 1 tbsp oil with a few flakes off the sugar and a pinch of salt.  Reduce heat and fry until mostly brown, then lift the onions out and line the bottom of a casserole pan with them.

Slice the chicken into fairly thin flat slabs, place in a bag with the Moroccan spice blend and a pinch of salt, shake until lightly coated with spice.  Add the other tbsp of oil to the pan, increase heat again, and fry off the chicken until the outside is seared.  Place chicken in a layer atop the onions in the casserole.

Peel the mangoes and slice the flesh off the stone, put the flesh in the pan along with the remaining palm sugar, crushed, and warm over medium heat until the mango loses texture.  Add the chicken stock, stir well, and pour evenly over the chicken and onions.

Peel sweet potato and slice about 5-7mm thick (about 1/4" or a touch thicker) and place in frypan, use to absorb all the pan juices, then place the slices over the chicken mixture in the casserole.  Add the mashed sweet potato over the top, spread out evenly.

Place in medium hot oven for about 45 minutes, test with a skewer if the sweet potato slices are done.  If they feel done, increase the oven heat, beat the egg and milk together and pour over the top of the dish before returning it to the oven for another 30 or so minutes, until the egg starts to brown in spots.


Let stand for ten minutes or so before serving.

Theoretically, you could use normal potato mash and potatoes for the top, but it's the taste of mango and sweet potato which makes this dish. You could steam or boil the all the sweet potato in slices and top the dish with that - I like the mash and slices because it gives a texture (the slices) and a smooth top.

The idea of the palm sugar is to A) add some caramel tones to the onions and B) take the acid edge off the mango.  Adjust the amount according to taste and how ripe your mangoes are.  Ditto with the salt - if you have to use more sugar, add a smidgen more salt.  If your chicken stock is salty, use a bit less.  The key is to have just enough sugar to tone off the sweet potato and mango, and just enough salt to round out the sugar flavour.  I generally wing this as I go, tasting and adjusting.  It's actually pretty hard to stuff it up, unless you tip in a pot of salt or use ultra green mangoes.

NOTE to the NOTE: I got green chutney mangoes once, some were so unripe they were soft but still white inside.  I added extra palm sugar and used the more ripe, yellowish-fleshed chutney mangoes, and sliced up the white-fleshed ones and sprinkled those with salt and munched on them while I cooked the rest of the meal.  You win some, and you win even more sometimes... Om nom nom!

Disclaimer: I haven't seen this recipe anywhere else.  As far as I know it's not a Moroccan recipe.  I just had the ingredients at hand and thought how well the flavours would go together.  Luckily, it worked out nice.  I've made it a few times since that first time, and it wasn't a fluke.  My accuracy in measuring ingredients, on the other hand....

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