Intricate flavors, exotic meals & slaughtering chickens

April 16, 2012

“I keep thinking about going back to Morocco,” I said to M. the other day.
“I don’t think you ever left,” he responded, and maybe he’s right.

I’ve been home more than two weeks, but the sights, sounds and flavors of Morocco are still with me, especially the tastes.  Even though I have a Moroccan-style slow cooker chicken meal in my repertoire, I’d like to master some of the intricate flavor profiles that characterize Moroccan cooking.

Mastering the art of Moroccan cooking–or trying to, anyway–requires some authentic recipes. Apparently, these are two of the best books on the subject.

 It also requires the right tools. You’d think I’d start by buying a tagine, but I didn’t. I just bought this gorgeous couscoussiere, a functional and striking piece of kitchen equipment. The bottom is big enough for an entire chicken, and the top steam basket’s holes are so large you’d think the dry couscous grains would fall right through. You have to read the cookbooks to understand why that doesn’t happen: it’s all the kind of couscous you buy (not instant and not the pearl-sized, either) and in how you prepare it.

I’m ready to try it out.  However, the recipe I’d like to try first calls for a freshly killed chicken and some fresh milk.  That could be a problem.

See, this is the thing: when you eat Moroccan food, you probably are getting freshly killed meat and poultry, and milk that’s come straight from the goat. That’s why it’s so delicious.

Here in America, where meat and milk aren’t quite so fresh, we can only approximate the zip of the real thing. It’s kind of sad, really.

Then again, I’m not willing to slaughter a chicken, pluck it and pop it in the couscoussiere.  I like some distance between me and what I put in the pot.

That’s the fact of it.

We work with what we have, right?

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