Making Moroccan Chicken with Eggplant Ragout
I’ve lost love which was fine, but realizing that it won’t ever come back in the form of friendship makes me sad. I’ve lost a feline companion to old age. He once sat with me while I challenge myself to see how much caffeine I can consume in one go (a large mug of black coffee and a large bar of dark chocolate affair that left me throwing up with a side of throbbing headache when the caffeine crashed). We’ve just gotten out of the woods with my mother’s illness and are now back home safely after two flights that were delayed. Twice. It’s exhausting and for the past few weeks it has gotten harder and harder to cook anything worthwhile. Until yesterday, when I found the kitten that used to hang around the house before we took off for the 17 day treatment. It has grown now. Sturdier, its meows less raspy. But still hesitant and eyes me with distrust, even with my rapidly blinking eyes and crouched stance next to the eggplant patch it cowers itself in.
I went inside and looked at the stacks of cans of tuna we left for the housekeeper to feed my old feline friend. I picked one of up pulled the tags and as I did, it felt like everything’s going to start to be okay. Why mourn things you cannot change? There is a perfectly ripe eggplant waiting to be picked, a scared and hungry kitten waiting to be fed and loved. A sliced olive salad in paprika oil from a salad bar last night waiting to mingle in a stew. I’ve left the candied ginger aside for another time and ice creams begone (for now, at least); I can’t keep up the fruity, cheerful charade. It’s time for some real cooking. I’m back, and I’m planning to make it worthwhile.
MORROCAN CHICKEN WITH EGGPLANT RAGOUT (adapted from this recipe, serves 4)
[ 3 tablespoons olive oil + 1 1 /2 pounds chicken legs, or any cuts you like + 2 small or 1 medium eggplant + 1 small onion + 4 cloves of garlic + 1/4 cup water or low sodium broth + 1 can (14 1/2 ounces) diced tomatoes with juices, or the same amount of chopped fresh tomatoes + 1/4 cup chopped or sliced green olives + 2 1/2 tablespoon lemon juice + 1 teaspoon sugar + 2 tablespoon minced parsley + salt + ground black pepper ]
Cut the eggplants and onion into cubes and mince the garlic. In a bowl, season the chicken with 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and black pepper and 1/2 tablespoon lemon juice. Toss to coat.
Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and heat 2 tablespoon of olive oil. Add the chicken, skin side down, and cook for 8-10 minutes per side, turning once. Remove the chicken and set aside in a plate. Drain off excess fat until you have only 2 tablespoons left.
Add eggplant cubes to the pan and cook until almost tender, about 5 minutes. Add remaining olive oil, onion and garlic. Cook for another 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Increase the heat to high and add water or stock to the pan. Scrape up any browned bits and add in the the tomatoes, lemon juice and sliced olives. Season to taste and place the chicken top. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat to medium-low. Cover and simmer for 35 minutes.
Sprinkle with chopped parsley and cut a lemon wedge or two to serve on the side.
Serve immediately with bread or oven chips. Enjoy!