Double-Cooked Red Chicken Marrakech-Style

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves

    6 to 8

Appears in

The Slow Mediterranean Kitchen

By Paula Wolfert

Published 2003

  • About

The generous use of Moroccan mild paprika, felfla hloua, in this classic recipe explains its Moroccan name, m'hammer, or “reddish.” The double-cooking method increases the complexity and depth of flavor of the dish. Garnish with slices of preserved lemon, if desired.


  • 5 garlic cloves, smashed
  • 1 tablespoon coarsely chopped tresh cilantro
  • teaspoon saffron threads, crushed
  • teaspoons coarse salt
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 whole chickens (3 pounds each), backbones removed
  • tablespoons sweet paprika, preferably Spanish or felfla hloua (see Mail Order Sources)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • Pinch of ground ginger
  • Cayenne
  • 1 small onion, grated


  1. In a mortar or mini food processor, mash or pulse the garlic with the cilantro, saffron, and 1 teaspoon of the coarse salt until a coarse paste forms. Transfer the paste to a bowl and stir in the melted butter.
  2. Re-form the chickens and tie them up with kitchen string. Rub the garlic paste all over the chickens, cover loosely with plastic wrap, and let stand at room temperature for 1 hour.
  3. Put the cut-up chicken backbones in a large enameled cast-iron casserole. Add the chickens, breast-side up. In a bowl, combine 1 tablespoon of the paprika with ½ teaspoon of the cumin, the pepper, ginger, and a pinch of cayenne. Sprinkle the spice mixture over the chickens and cook over moderately low heat until steam begins to rise, about 5 minutes.
  4. Mix the onion into cups water and pour around the chickens. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer until the juices run clear when the thighs are pierced near the bone with a knife, about 1 hour. Transfer the chickens to a cutting board and remove the strings; keep the chickens intact.
  5. Discard the backbones. Skim off the fat from the sauce, reserving 3 tablespoons fat. Boil the sauce until it is reduced to 1 cup, about 15 minutes. Transfer to a small saucepan and keep warm.
  6. Preheat the broiler. Stir the remaining ½ tablespoon paprika and ½ teaspoon cumin into the reserved 3 tablespoons chicken fat. Add a pinch of cayenne and ¼ teaspoon salt. Put the chickens in a roasting pan, breast side up, and rub with the spiced fat. Broil 8 to 10 inches from the heat for 10 minutes, or until browned. Carve the chicken and pass the warm sauce at the table.