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Chicken With Candied Pumpkin (Djaj bel-Qera Mderbela)

Chicken With Candied Pumpkin (Djaj bel-Qera Mderbela)
Los Angeles Times

Laila Benkirane knows Moroccan food tradition well. Four years ago, this delicate, scholarly woman and her husband, professor Mohamed Mezzine, translated a 13th century Moroccan cookbook into French for the first Festival of Fez for Culinary Arts. Last month Mezzine ... Read more

Total time: 2 hours | Serves 4
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped onion
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground saffron
  • 1 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 2 1/2 cups water, divided
  • 1 (3 1/2- to 4-pound) chicken
  • 1 (1 those-pound) pumpkin or butternut squash
  • 5 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Step 1Place the onion, ginger, saffron, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, the oil and 2 cups of water in a food processor and process to a smooth liquid.

Step 2Place the liquid in a saucepan just large enough to hold the chicken, lay the chicken in it, cover and cook over medium heat until very tender and the meat is falling off the bone, 1 hour, 15 minutes to 1 hour, 30 minutes. From time to time, remove the lid and baste the chicken with the sauce. Add more water if the sauce is in danger of drying up.

Step 3Meanwhile, peel and seed the pumpkin or squash and cut it into 1-inch pieces. Place the pieces in a large skillet with 1/2 cup of water and the butter. Sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Simmer over low heat until very tender, 40 to 50 minutes. Remove the squash from the skillet, place it in the food processor with the honey and cinnamon and process to a puree.

Step 4Serve the chicken in the sauce or with it on the side. Serve the pumpkin puree on the side or mix it into the sauce.

Note: The bird is a chicken, cooked as a Moroccan stew (tajine) instead of being roasted, but this dish has a curious similarity to the Thanksgiving combination of turkey and candied yams.


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