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Million Dollar Moroccan Chicken, Thanks Free Sample Addict aka Tracy L

This is unbelievably good, and was ready for dinner so much quicker than I expected (I was running late so a very nice surpise, not much longer than a half hour for both things I was making). Thanks for bringing it to my atttention! I only made it because I had all the ingredients on hand and some extra chicken cutlets to use up, but loved, loved, loved it. http://www.recipezaar.com/Million-Dol... Only changes (always has to be a few ;-)) I used cutlets, subbed Rotel for salsa and beer for water, because that's what I had on hand.

Then you mentioned a date and orange salad, and I remembered I had a recipe for couscous with dates and oranges that I hadn't got around to trying, actually lots of similar ingredients, I even had the orange blossom water so made that too. Also excellent, and would be fine on it's own, although together....well if a take out place sold this combo, I'd be there at least once a week.

The couscous recipe was on a blog and not showing up, so let me paraphrase in case anyone is interested

Couscous with Oranges and Dates

1 1/2 cups water
3 Tbsp honey
1 tsp orange flower water
3 Tbsp chopped dry apricots
2 Tbsp currants or raisins
1 Tbsp butter
1 cup couscous (I used whole wheat) already cooked by you
1/2 tsp cinnamon
salt to taste
2 navel oranges( but I used a can of mandarin I had, drained and then topped off with OJ
6 pitted dates, sliced
(called for pomegranite seeds to garnish but don't have on hand, no loss to me


Combine water and honey in saucepan and bring to boil. Lower to medium and boil gently til honey dissolves. Add orange flower water, chopped apricots and currants and let sit for five minutes.

Put couscous in large bowl, add butter, cinnamon and salt, and stir. I cooked in the microwave per package instructions like this. Pour hot syrup over and mix.

Cut sections of orange over the bowl, catching the juice, or do like me and add Tropicana and a can of mandarins.

Serve topped with dates (and pomegranate seeds).

Can't wait to have the leftovers tonight!

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  1. Coll, thank you for this report...I'll definitely try it...would pan-toasting the almonds in a dry pan work instead of cooking them in oil or butter? I can't imagine that the chicken thighs pick up much of the almond flavor from the oil or am I wrong? Thanks!

    8 Replies
    1. re: Val

      I accidentally put a lot of oil (1/8 cup? covered the pan pretty well )but I had at least double the amount of almonds called for too. I really liked how they came out, very different from toasted, softer texture. Oh by the way forgot to mention I used slivered, so YMMV. Then after I removed them, the pan actually looked sort of dry, so I added a half stick of butter to do the chicken. Doesn't taste greasy at all though.

      1. re: Val

        Not sure why but I am intrigued by this recipe. I'm considering making it for my Passover seder next month. But I am wondering...is the end result more of a sweet flavor or savory? I just cannot put the ingredients together in my head -- I think it's the salsa and cinnamon that are throwing me off. I will also make brisket and my brisket is sweet, so I usually try to make a more savory chicken dish to go along with the brisket.

        Obviously I could give it a trial run before Passover but I am only reluctant to do that because this does not sound like something that my husband would eat and I'm not sure about my kids, so I'm hoping to just get a general idea of whether it's more sweet or savory. Any thoughts? Thanks.

        1. re: valerie

          This would be perfect Valerie. No it's not overly sweet. The one tbsp of honey makes the sauce shiny and balances the acidity of the salsa. You keep wanting one more little taste of the sauce towards the end of the cooking. And using currants rather than raisins seems to keep the sweet/sticky factor down. That said if your brisket is tomatoey it might be too similar.

          I've been making this since it was first published. I'm embarrassed to say I made it mainly b/c I was indignant that a recipe with a jar of salsa poured over some chicken pieces would win a $1M prize! But the sum of the parts proved to be greater than the individual ingredients. I recommend browning the almonds in the oil, as stated in the recipe. Scoop out with a slotted spoon and LIGHTLY salt while you proceed with the recipe. Also bone-in thighs are nicer than boneless. Avoid breasts as they come out stringy. Before I put in the liquids, I push the chicken to the edges of the pan, put the garlic in the middle and lightly cook, then put in the spices and stir them a bit being careful not burn. It just adds something.

          It comes together really quickly so doing a trial run won't be too time-consuming.

          1. re: cinnamon girl

            Thanks for the tweaks, I love this recipe. I will definitely make it with thighs next time. I might even buy a jar of salsa.

            1. re: coll

              my pleasure, Coll. However, I think the money tips of this thread so far, are BEER and BUTTER, ha ha. Not much is going to top those.

              1. re: coll

                I have also made this recipe many times. The original recipe was published about a dozen years ago on the Pillsbury Cook-off site. It was titled "Salsa Couscous Chicken" and called for a cup of Old El Paso Garden Pepper or Thick 'n Chunky Salsa, the brand owned by Pillsbury Foods. I use a version of my own salsa which is similar to "Thick 'n Chunky".

                This recipe has also has worked well at times when I have cooked for groups of 30-50 people.

                I have frequently used boneless chicken breast portions especially for large batches. What I do is cross-cut the each breast diagonally across the grain into about 3 slices. Then I grill them. As long as care is exercised not to overcook them, they shouldn't come out dry or stringy.

                Coll's substitution of Modelo Negro sounds interesting. I'll give that a try next time.

              2. re: cinnamon girl

                Thanks for your response. I am thinking of making this with a combination of bone-in thighs and bone-in breasts since I like to offer white and dark meat to my guests. My brisket is not tomatoey so this might work. Maybe I will give it a try later this week. Even if I don't end up using the recipe for Passover, I'm always happy to have a new dish to add to my dinner rotation.

          2. "I. . .subbed Rotel for salsa and beer for water, because that's what I had on hand." You didn't have water on hand?

            5 Replies
            1. re: cheesemaestro

              Hahaha, I had a half bottle of Negro Modelo to use up (I buy it only for cooking), and I always like to use something flavorful vs water. Glad to know you read the recipe through anyway!

              1. re: cheesemaestro

                That's the first thing that jumped out at me too.


                1. re: cheesemaestro

                  A place where beer is on hand more readily than water? I want to go to there.

                  1. That ewcipe could get me to eat couscous. I will copy that, Thanks!

                    1. Thanks for the report, I'm going to try this tonight. Did you feel any need to tinker with the amount of cinnamon? That seemed to be the only "meh" review.

                      Also, I'm going to double the recipe and use bone-in thighs... think I could transfer everything to a baking dish, cover and bake rather than cook on the stovetop? (I hate my electric skillet - it has this annoying "moat" around the edges which collect juices but don't cook them down with ingredients right.)

                      ETA: Any thoughts on serving this with a garlicy quinoa? I just realized I don't have rice.. but I have quinoa that I've never even tried. (Oh, the shame of admitting that!)

                      15 Replies
                      1. re: shanagain

                        No don't tinker with the cinnamon. It's the right amount in proportion to the cumin and is what gives it an allusion to Moroccan. Otherwise, it's just another chicken dish with salsa poured over it.

                        Yes should be good with quinoa. Strangely, it's great with spuds - which is what I do on my own but don't serve it that way to others.

                        Yes it might be better in the oven. You could brown the thighs, transfer them to your casserole and then you'd be able to completely deglaze the sticky bits. Bring the sauce up a bubble and pour it over the chicken.

                        1. re: cinnamon girl

                          I was thinking of making this in the oven as well, particularly if I am making it for company. Brown the chicken (bone-in breasts and thighs), make the sauce on the stovetop in dutch oven, add chicken back in and into 350 degree oven for 45 minutes to an hour. Now that I think about it, maybe I can even make it a day ahead...

                          1. re: valerie

                            Yes, when you're doing a big meal you just want extra room on the stove.

                          2. re: cinnamon girl

                            Thanks to you both! I ended up using the skillet then transferring everything to a dutch oven. (Why wash one thing when you can do two!? LOL)

                            I subbed out on-hand craisins for currants, and beer for water, didn't change anything else.

                            In the future, I would change one thing - we didn't care for the chopped almonds - from 12yo to 42yo's all found them too distracting and prominent. Sliced or slivered would be much, much better, IMO.

                            And the quinoa was perfect - soaked up the sauce beautifully.

                            (I use fitday.com to track calories & carbs and such, and since I only eat one thigh - never two - this is ridiculously low cal and reasonable in it's carb count, surprisingly. I had brussels sprouts on the side -I'm on a kick, they're SO good right now- and the entire meal was under 350 calories, carbs at about 30. That's 50 cal's more than a Cup Noodles, for goodness sake.)

                            In short, I'll definitely make it again, and definitely do so in the oven. I think it could only be better cooked that way.

                            1. re: shanagain

                              Wow - thanks for the cal count! I never thought of brussels as a side but it seems perfect.

                              That's funny about the almonds. The last time I visited my brother and family it was the crunchy almonds they all loved. In fact, I wanted to chase them away from the dish of "fried" almonds they kept picking at before I'd added them. But I can see how slivered would be nice too. Do they like pine nuts? They would be good too.

                              1. re: cinnamon girl

                                You're welcome. I have to admit I was really surprised at the low-cal nature of the meal. I tend to view thighs as A.)Fatty and B.)The best part of the chicken because of it. But really you don't get much healthier - no matter how you eat - than this meal.

                                Oh, I snacked on the almonds as I cooked too! They're really good by themselves, but for some reason we just thought slivered or sliced would be perfect instead.

                                The brussels were so good as a side - but right now, I'd eat brussels sprouts as a side to more sprouts. ;)

                                1. re: shanagain

                                  Do you have a special way of preparing the brussels sprouts?

                                  Duh . . . I went out with list in hand today, with sprouts on the list, based on this conversation . . . did I come home with sprouts?! arggghh

                                  1. re: cinnamon girl

                                    Oh, bummer, now you have to go again tomorrow.

                                    I've discovered that brussels are awesome in the microwave - I halve any large ones & toss them into a gladware container with a half slice of bacon and a splash of water and nuke for about 3 minutes for 5 (I'm the only one that likes them around here.) I know it sounds like sacrilege, but they're perfect.

                                    But.. they're every bit as good sliced and sauteed in butter/olive oil. I tend to fail at roasting them - they're always a mix of browned/raw which irritates me. LOL

                                    1. re: shanagain

                                      Thanks for that. I've never had any luck roasting them either, or broccoli for that matter. Maybe other people just like that browned/raw thing more than we do. So is that how you prepared the brussels when you added up the calorie count for the meal? I don't have a microwave but I could just do them in a pan using the half slice of bacon for the sauteeing fat. I use About.com for my calorie counter but will definitely check out fitday.

                                      1. re: cinnamon girl

                                        The sauteed version, measured at a teaspoon of olive oil, tablespoon of butter (I actually used bacon when I sauteed, but didn't eat the bacon, and it wasn't even in the pan long enough to cook down all of it's fat - there really probably wasn't even that much.)

                                        I think maybe you're right, btw - ditto on the roasted broccoli for me.

                                        1. re: shanagain

                                          Thank you! Will make as soon as I get my mitts on some sprouts. I'm going to try slicing them on my cheap mandolin. And who knows - half a slice of bacon could very well not be more than a tbsp of butter since at least some of it's meat.

                                    2. re: cinnamon girl

                                      Hi CG. I prepare brussels sprouts differently from many people. After trimming them, I drop them in a saucepan with about half a cup of water and a bit of salt and bring to simmer, covered, and cook till they're nearly done (maybe 5-7 mins). In the interim, I finely chop a shallot and a large clove of garlic and saute in another saucepan with about a Tbsp. each of olive oil and butter, then a splash of dry white wine and cook the alcohol off. When the sprouts are nearly done (a little resistance when pierced with a knife) I drain them and add them to the shallot/garlic mixture, mix well and serve. They're really good.

                                      1. re: caiatransplant

                                        Thank you Caiatransplant! I'm sorry I'm so late in responding but I've not been online for awhile. Those sound really good; parboiling them would guarantee they lost their raw taste too. Will definitely be trying next.

                              2. re: cinnamon girl

                                A comment on spices, cinnamon and cumin are essential but to push it into the sublime, toasted ground saffron threads will give it a haunting taste and fragrance you'll crave over and over. Just finished eating the last of a Tyler Florence recipe for Chicken Tagine with Green Olives and Preserved Lemon. And yes, preserved lemon adds another layer of Yummmm.

                                1. re: gki

                                  Oh that's a good idea. I have some saffron but it's been around awhile . . . maybe it'll still be fine since it's in thread form (as opposed to ground).

                            2. thank you so much for posting this recipe! No way would I have tried it on my own. It was really good, it's amazing how the salsa cooks down and changes - there are no "mexican" notes to this dish like I feared. Really quick for week night cooking.

                              Will make again & up the spices a bit. Whole wheat couscous is not bad either. : )

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: Snorkelvik

                                So glad you liked, chicken on sale this week and I'll be making it again myself. Rare to find something so tasty and also easy. Really earns its title as a "million dollar" recipe!

                                1. re: coll

                                  I, too, have been making this recipe since it won the contest (I covered that Bake-Off for my newspaper back then). It's my go-to pot luck dish and invariably, the host asks for the recipe the next day.
                                  Some notes: I always use the sliced almonds, and cook them ahead with the garlic...I, too, have subbed out cranberries or golden raisins for currants...I use a pinch of Moroccan paprika in mine and the smokiness really zings it! (A friend brought some back, but I'd be willing to share.) Try some real smoked paprika if possible. The flavors are so complex, I've used them on other foods - try the mixture on slow-cooked pork ribs or shortribs of beef...unbelievable.
                                  As for brussels sprouts: cook in butter with toasted pecans and a bit of grated apple - the apple mellows the cabbage-like qualities of the sprouts (I could eat them every day, but my partner is tired of that business) and no one notices it - but wonders...

                              2. The original recipe that won the Pillsbury prize was not made with jarred salsa! It's called Moroccan-Style Chicken-Crescent Casserole and the recipe is on the Pillsbury website here: http://bit.ly/bSKK9Q

                                11 Replies
                                1. re: bookbitch

                                  That sounds good too - but when was the recipe writtten, 1942? 6 of the boneless chicken breasts in my market would weigh at least 4 pounds! They have gotten humongous.

                                  1. re: buttertart

                                    I don't know what to do about these big chickens; everywhere I go, I cannot find "normal" size.

                                      1. re: alanbarnes

                                        Was exaggerating for (desired but apparently not realized) comic effect.

                                        1. re: buttertart

                                          I got the humor. Should have thrown an emoticon in there. My point was that the grotesquely buxom chicken is a very recent phenomenon.

                                          1. re: alanbarnes

                                            Gotcha. Although lately have heard radio announcers say "back in 1994" for example. Back in???

                                    1. re: bookbitch

                                      Yes, actually it was made with salsa and it was called Salsa Couscous Chicken. You have the wrong recipe!


                                        1. re: valerie

                                          What an interesting woman. Did you see she now includes an alternate recipe without the salsa? I like the salsa!!! Normally I don't do cheats or shortcuts, but I think the salsa is a cool secret ingredient in a "Moroccan" dish. I'm sticking to the original! : )

                                          1. re: Snorkelvik

                                            Me too - I like it that the onions and peppers are already cut up for us.

                                        2. re: bookbitch

                                          Sorry, but that's not the same recipe as I posted; the million-dollar recipe is called Salsa Chicken with Couscous. It won the Bake-Off in 1998, and indeed features jarred salsa - it was required since Pillsbury signed on with Old El Paso products. See it on the Pillsbury web site here: http://www.pillsbury.com/recipes/show...

                                        3. How can a winner of the million dollar Pillsbury Bake Off - be absent of Pillsbury products..
                                          The entry rules always include that a portion of Pillsbury products be included in the recipe - i.e. flour, prepared doughs, etc..

                                          4 Replies
                                          1. re: califnan

                                            My family loves this recipe and I make it often. I make twice the amount of sauce (so I can use an entire 16 oz. jar of salsa) and half the amount of chicken. It ends up with enough sauce to have over couscous or whatever you want to serve it with - we like it saucy. I also think the sauce would be good as a base to add cooked cubes of boneless lamb as well.

                                            1. re: Michelle

                                              I was just thinking earlier, to make with lamb or maybe even shrimp. Glad to know I'm not the only one.

                                              1. re: Michelle

                                                I make mine saucier too since it's all about the sauce. I've used that spice combo in minced lamb.

                                              2. re: califnan

                                                The original recipe called for a cup of Old El Paso salsa, a Pillsbury product in the Bake Off-allowed products.

                                              3. Made this last night based on what was in my sister's fridge/cupboard (bone-in beasts instead of thighs) and it was a winner: my BIL thanked me about 10 times for making dinner and he is not generally one to notice what he eats. Thin-sliced almonds added nice crunch on the top and quinoa cooked in chicken broth made a nice accompaniment (green salad too). I'd probably double up on the sauce next time. Like everyone else, I wasn't sure about this but it's a keeper.

                                                1. Made this last night and we were very pleasantly surprised -- and glad we tried it. As raisins and almonds are not high on our preferred food lists, we subbed dried cranberries and pine nuts and really liked the dish. The salsa/sauce was a bit watery, but suspect that was because we used a fresh salsa instead of a jar. Perhaps we'll go with the jar next time, which will be later this week as it was so easy and extremely quick!!

                                                  1. I have to admit that I made the Pillsbury Cook-Off winning recipe in part because I was skeptical about how good it could possibly be... but frankly, it was delicious. And easy. And I made it with items I always try to keep in the house -- with one exception. Rather than going with the standard salsa I keep in the pantry, I figured it would be worth choosing a salsa that might better lend itself to this dish. So, after reading the recipe a few times, I wandered through the salsa section at my grocery store and eventually chose a jar of Pace Pineapple Mango Chipotle Salsa -- I thought the sweet fruit and the smokiness from the chipotle would enhance the "Moroccan" flavor aspects (although, that said, I'm not Moroccan, and I make no claims as to authenticity). (The salsa, by the way, is surprisingly good -- especially since it's something I'd usually stay far away from! -- really smoky, with large chunks of pineapple and mango. I'd never tried it before but will absolutely buy it again, particularly for this recipe.)

                                                    I changed the recipe a little: the first thing I did was toast the cumin seeds (dry, in the same pan that later gets used for the chicken) until they were golden and aromatic. I scraped them out into a bowl, and then continued with the recipe. I used chicken breasts (because that's what was in the freezer) and sprinkled them with plenty of garlic powder (omitting the fresh garlic, so it wouldn't burn) and a little sumac; I used golden raisins instead of currants, and fried them along with the chicken to caramelize them a bit. I also subbed chicken broth for the water. At the end I sprinkled a big handful of chopped cilantro over the whole thing. I served this over quinoa that was tossed with olive oil and fresh thyme, which was lovely. I could also see it being really good with rice, plain polenta, or anything that will soak up the lovely sauce -- because otherwise you'll want to lick the serving dish!

                                                    Despite any reservations you might have, I'd urge other Hounds to try this recipe.... it's really worth trying at least once, because it's easy and inexpensive to make, and delicious.

                                                    Now I'm wondering if I should re-consider my skepticism of other Pillsbury contest-winning recipes...

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: freelancer77

                                                      This recipe is so adaptable, and yet so basically good: I'm glad others agree with me because I was afraid I might be imagining it.

                                                      I grew up on another Pillsbury recipe, don't know what its real name is but my Mom called it Chicken Things, chicken salad with cream cheese etc encased in Crescent Rolls, dipped in butter, parsley and bread crumbs, and baked: sounds like nothing but if you served it to company, they would rave. Been making it for what...thirty years minimum and never get tired of it. Think outside the box, I guess.

                                                      Duh never looked it up, here it is (but high calorie unfortunately) http://www.pillsbury.com/Recipes/Show... 1974, that sounds about right ;-)

                                                    2. We made this for friends the other night and had a lot of leftovers-we shredded the chicken and reduced the sauce and made a really good B'stilla. We also thought that a quick and easy dinner would have been the filling the shredded chicken and sauce in pitas-sort of a Moroccan Taco (I know I know, that sounds so Rachel Ray).

                                                      7 Replies
                                                      1. re: margib

                                                        What a creative idea. Did you use phyllo pastry or . . . Details please!

                                                        1. re: cinnamon girl

                                                          Phyllo, layered with almonds, confectionery sugar, cinnamon and brushed with melted butter. I put about 6 layered leaves on the bottom of a 9" inch pie, added the filling, and put 6 more layers on the top. I trimmed and tucked the edges and baked it for about 40 minutes at 375 degrees. Add a little more confectionery sugar to the top at the end..

                                                          1. re: margib

                                                            Oh my Margib - you are clearly a genius. Do you throw in anything extra to the filling? I love this idea!

                                                            1. re: cinnamon girl

                                                              nope-just strained the sauce and let it cook down a bit, shredded the chicken and mixed it all back together...it was yummy!

                                                              1. re: margib

                                                                thanks! Then you don't want the little vegetable bits in the b'stilla? Or do you strain them out b/c they will become overcooked or make the sauce to runny? You must have had lots of leftover, right?

                                                                1. re: cinnamon girl

                                                                  Everything went in-i didn't worry about the vegetable bits--I just strained the sauce to let it cook down and thicken a bit more....and then I added it with everything else,..oh and I added garbanzos to the original recipe and they went in as well.

                                                                  I doubled the recipe and probably had about 1/3 left over (like 5 thighs)...too many appetizers, not enough guests!!

                                                      2. The creator of this recipe prefers it without jarred salsa. This version wouldn't qualify for the million-dollar prize because it doesn't contain any processed foods from General Mills, but frankly it sounds better to me:


                                                        3 Replies
                                                        1. re: alanbarnes

                                                          We made the Ellie Matthews version of Couscous Chicken last night with a few minor alterations: 3 OFRchicken breasts sliced in chunks, 2 tspns cumin, 1/2 tspn cayenne and plain steamed jasmine rice. No salsa. Absolutely delicious! Served with the last of the late great acorn squashes, roasted with butter & local honey. Perfetto. Thanks for the link, Alan.

                                                          1. re: alanbarnes

                                                            Cooked this dish last night, and it was a hit. It's earned a spot on our dinner rotation. Quick, easy, and delicious.

                                                            I made a couple of changes, most significantly browning the chicken and briefly frying the spices to release their oils. I also eliminated the cayenne pepper and added a couple of tablespoons of harissa paste to be more traditionally Moroccan.

                                                            But then I realized that we were out of currants, so I used cranberries. Yeah, real traditional. Casablanca is famous for its cranberry bogs. Oh well, next time. It was still tasty.

                                                            1. re: alanbarnes

                                                              Oh I've heard that too about the Moroccan cranberry bogs - ha ha. The addition of harissa paste would be great; I'm copying you next time I make it! I always brown everything, and fry the spices a bit, too.