I usually try to write these blog posts the day I make the dish in question but sometimes I don’t manage to get around to it until some days after. Sadly, this is the case today. Sadly, because the leftovers are gone. Sadly, because I’m a bit hungry and I suddenly really want some more chicken musakhan. It was really good. The leftovers were even better. Sigh.
Chicken musakhan is a Palestinian dish usually made with lots of onions and sumac, traditionally served over flatbread. It can be made fairly quickly but I wanted to make it in a crock pot because I wanted to come home to a ready-made dinner and because I wanted fall-off-the-bone chicken. I didn’t want to serve it with flatbread, I didn’t want to use onions (because they’re high in FODMAPs), and I didn’t have any sumac. So… was I going to be able to make a tasty version given those constraints?
The answer is yes. I used sweet bell peppers rather than onion and I substituted lemon and paprika for sumac – the point of sumac being a sour taste and reddish colour. While I make no claims as to the authenticity of my version, I can tell you it’s delicious, and that’s what counts, right? It’s also gluten-free, paleo, dairy-free, and free of added sugars.
- 800 g chicken thighs or other chicken pieces of your choice, bone in and skin on (With thighs, I usually use kitchen shears to trim away loose skin but leave any that’s well stuck on. This should not be necessary with other types of chicken pieces.)
- 1 lemon, zested (you will use both the zest and juice)
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 2 teaspoons paprika
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
- 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper or to taste
- Large pinch saffron
- Salt to taste
- Splash of olive oil
- Splash of chicken stock (1-2 tablespoons should do it; the idea is just to dilute the lemon juice a bit)
- Generous handful of toasted pine nuts, for garnish
- Good handful of fresh mint, chopped, for garnish
- Directly in your crock pot, mix the sliced bell pepper, lemon zest, spices, and olive oil.
- Season the chicken pieces with salt and pepper and brown well in a frying pan with a bit of olive oil. Drain any excess fat.
- Layer the browned chicken pieces on top of the spiced bell pepper and add the lemon juice and chicken stock. Cook on low for about 6 hours.
- Mix up the chicken and spiced peppers. Garnish with toasted pine nuts and fresh mint. Optionally, serve with tahini, olives and a simple (geographically confused but tasty) Moroccan-style carrot salad (grated raw carrot, raisins, chopped mint leaves, lime juice, olive oil, and a sprinkle of cumin). Well, okay, if you really want you can serve it over pita (pitta) bread too.