Chicken Breasts with Charmoula

Charmoula, the intense Moroccan spice sauce, tastes wonderful with fish as well as chicken. Keep an eye on the spices as they toast in the dry pan so that they don't burn.


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  • Servings: 4

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  • 1 tablespoon plus 1/4 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 1/3 cup lightly packed cilantro leaves, plus 8 sprigs (optional) for garnish
  • 1/3 cup lightly packed flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • 7 tablespoons olive oil
  • Grated zest of half an orange
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • Fresh-ground black pepper
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 1 1/3 pounds in all)
  • 2 plum tomatoes, diced (optional)

How to make this recipe

  1. In a small frying pan, toast the 1 tablespoon paprika with the cumin over low heat, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Put in a blender and puree with the garlic, cilantro leaves, parsley, 6 tablespoons of the oil, the orange zest, lemon juice, cayenne, 1/2 teaspoon of the salt, and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. Leave in the blender.

  2. Put 1 tablespoon oil in a nonstick frying pan over moderate heat. Season the chicken with 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon paprika, and 1/8 teaspoon black pepper. Brown 5 minutes. Turn; cook until just done, 4 to 5 minutes longer. Blend the sauce to re-emulsify; serve over the chicken. Sprinkle with the tomatoes and top with the cilantro sprigs.

Suggested Pairing

A white with a bit of sweetness, like an Oregon Pinot Gris, will play off the spicy sauce nicely.

Photo © Melanie Acevedo Published February 2013

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