September is National Chicken Month. Here’s a tasty chicken recipe that’s off the beaten track—inspired by Morocco, to be precise.
The recipe is courtesy of the National Chicken Council, which features recipes for lunch and dinner on their consumer website, ChickenRoost.com.
We have to take exception with the given name of the recipe, which is Moroccan Chicken with Eggplant-Zucchini Ragout. That’s not accurate.
Ragout (rah-GOO) is not a dice of vegetables; it is a stew. Like stews, ragouts can be made from different meats, seafood, and vegetables, with different seasonings. They can be vegetables-only.
The key difference between a ragout and a stew:
The meat and vegetables in a ragout are cut into smaller pieces than in a typical stew.
Neither a stew nor a ragout would refer to a bed or a serving of diced vegetables.
The lesson here is one you’ve heard before: Just because you read it in print doesn’t make it true.
THE WORD “RAGOUT”
The word “ragout” is the American spelling of the French ragoût. The English spelling drops the circumflex over the “u.”
Ragoût, in turn, derives from the verb ragoûter, meaning “to revive the taste.”
A similarly-sounding word in Italian is ragù, but it refers to a sauce, typically used to dress pasta.
WHAT SHOULD THIS RECIPE BE CALLED?
This is a chicken dish with diced vegetables (photo #1). In French cooking, there are four sizes of dice:
Large dice, 3/4″ square (carré in French—cah-RAY).
Medium dice, 1/2″ square (parmentier—par-men-TYAY).
Small dice, 1/4″ square (macédoine—MAH-suh-dwon) dice.
Very small dice, 1/8″ (brunoise—broon-WOZ), and there’s even extra-extra small, fine brunoise, 1/16″.
See the chart showing the different sizes, below.
This recipe calls for a 1/2 dice of the vegetables, or parmentier in the language of French-trained chefs. But doesn’t Moroccan Chicken With Parmentier Of Eggplant & Zucchini” sound more tempting than Moroccon Chicken With Diced Eggplant & Zucchini?
If you agree, you have our permission to call the recipe as we have renamed it.
> The history of chicken.
> The different cuts of chicken.
RECIPE: MOROCCAN CHICKEN WITH PARMENTIER OF EGGPLANT & ZUCCHINI
The principal Moroccan seasoning, ras el hanout*, is a blend of ground spices: allspice, cinnamon, cloves, coriander, cumin, ginger, paprika, and turmeric.
However, since most American kitchens don’t have ras el hanout, the recipe was developed with other flavors of Morocco that most of us keep in the pantry.
1 ½ – 2 pounds chicken leg quarters
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 teaspoon salt, divided
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
1 small eggplant, cut into ½-inch dice
1 medium zucchini, cut into ½-inch dice
1 small onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
¼ cup white wine or water
1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes with juices
¼ cup pimento-stuffed green olives, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons capers, rinsed
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, minced
1. WARM 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Season the leg quarters with ½ teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon black pepper. Add the leg quarters to the pan, skin-side down. Brown the chicken, turning once, 8 to 10 minutes per side. Remove the chicken to a plate and drain off all but 2 tablespoons of oil.
2. ADD the eggplant to the hot pan and cook, stirring for 5 minutes. Add the remaining tablespoon of olive oil, along with the zucchini, onion, and garlic. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
3. RAISE the heat to high and add the white wine to the pan, stirring to scrape up any browned bits (the fond). Add all of the remaining ingredients, except the parsley, and place the chicken legs back in the pan.
4. BRING to a boil, reduce the heat to medium-low, cover and simmer for 35 to 40 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through (an instant-read thermometer should read 170ºF).
7. TO SERVE: Place some of the eggplant-zucchini mixture onto plates, top with a leg quarter, and sprinkle with parsley.
 Moroccan-style chicken with eggplant, zucchini, olives and capers (photo © Chicken Roost).
 Chopped pimento-stuffed olives go into the eggplant-zucchini mix (photo © Recipeland).
 So do briny capers (photo © iGourmet).
 Diced tomatoes contribute to the sauce. Our favorite brand: San Marzano (photo © DeLaurenti).
 You need only one eggplant (photo © IT Delice).
 And one zucchini. The singular form in Italian is zucchini. In the U.S., the same word is used for the singular and plural forms (photo © Good Eggs).