Moroccan-Inspired Chicken Patties with Date Confit
Moroccan-Inspired Chicken Patties with Date Confit--and More Photos from Morocco
by Victoria Challancin
No one has said it better than food maven Paula Wolfert, who wrote so thoroughly and so lovingly about Morocco and its heady cuisine. To paraphrase her, Moroccan food is spicy, but not really piquant. If you want chile heat, you simply provide the rich condiment called harissa (see my recipe and article here) at the table, to be passed separately so that diners can add the piquancy they want. But the actual use of spices in Moroccan cuisine is always judicious, as if each cook knows just the perfect amount of each spice required to enhance her dish, without ever overwhelming the whole, without ever allowing one note to dominate the harmonious union of the seductive blend of ingredients.
Although you might never find this particular dish in Morocco, the flavors are true to the cuisine, resulting in a rich, thoroughly modern interpretation of Moroccan flavors. Using a spice blend called ras el hanout to enliven the chicken patty and a pomegrante molasses-rich confit of dates to round out the flavors, this recipe is a wonderful way to experience the flavors of Morocco.
Cook's Notes: This is such a lovely recipe as written that I don't think I even tampered with it, a rare thing for me. And if you are lucky enough to have leftovers of this dish, the taste just improves the next day. My sister-in-law made these for a party appetizer and served them with my Chermoula Sauce (see my recipe here and lots of ideas for how to use it here), which also worked beautifully. Lovely flavors. Did I skip the cucumber and onion relish? I can't imagine that I did, but then, I don't see it anywhere. Just cilantro leaves. Yikes!
Recipe: Moroccan-Inspired Chicken Patties with Date Confit
Serves 4 as a light meal and up to 12 as an hors d'oeuvres
For the chicken patties:
1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (I purchase pre-ground)
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1-inch piece fresh ginger root, peeled and grated
2 teaspoons Ras el Hanout (see my recipe here)
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon light brown sugar
16 small hearts of lettuce leaves
4-inch piece English cucumber, quartered lengthwise, seeded and diced
1 small red onion, finely chopped
1 handful cilantro leaves
For the date confit:
20 ready-to-eat pitted dates, halved (use Medjool, if possible)
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 shallots, chopped
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 Thai (or serrano) chile, finely chopped
1 teaspoon light brown sugar
2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
To make the date confit:
Put the dates in a bowl, cover with just-boiled water and leave for 1 hour. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a skillet and fry the shallots, covered, for 20 to 25 minutes or until very soft.
Drain the dates and add them to the pan, squashing them with the back of a fork to break them down. Stir in 4 tablespoons water, the cinnamon, chile and sugar and cook for 5 minutes longer, or until it forms a thick jam consistency. Add more water if it is too thick. Stir in the pomegranate molasses and season to taste with salt and pepper. You can blend the mixture if you prefer a smoother consistency. Spoon the confit into a serving bowl and allow to cool.
To make the chicken patties:
Heat the oven to 100 degrees. Grind the chicken in a food processor (or use pre-ground, as I did), then stir in the garlic, ginger, and ras el hanout. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Form the chicken mixture into 16 equal balls, about the size of golf balls. Flatten each one to make a little patty.
Heat two-thirds of the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Fry the patties, in two or three batches, if necessary, for 3 minutes on each side. Just before they finish cooking on each side, sprinkle with a little sugar and cook until slightly caramelized. Drain on paper towels and keep warm in the low oven while you cook the remaining patties, adding more oil as necessary.
Put a chicken patty on top of each lettuce leaf, scatter a little cucumber, red onion and cilantro over and top with a spoonful of the date confit. Serve warm or at room temperature.
More Images from my Moroccan Trip in April 2014:
Like what you see? Why not join me in either October of 2014 or April of 2015 on my next tours of Morocco--beautiful, seductive Morocco.
©Victoria Challancin. All Rights Reserved.
Flavors of the Sun Cooking School and Trips
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