Roasted Chicken With Moroccan Spices, Cheesy Orzo and Green Beans with Caramelized Shallots and Walnuts

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If you’re craving a home-cooked meal, this one will hit the spot. It’s homey and comforting, but with an interesting twist — Moroccan spices on the chicken, with a little sweetness and a little spice, classic green beans but with shallots and walnuts to dress it up, and the orzo is pasta transformed into pure homey, cheesy goodness.

The chicken and green beans are recipes courtesy of Tyler Florence, and the orzo is Rachael Ray. This delicious orzo is a recipe I’ve been coming back to again and again. And if you know how I cook, that’s unusual. I love trying new recipes, so it’s not often that I’ll choose to revisit something I’ve tried. But this orzo is just too good. It’s easy, quick and the end result is creamy and delicious — with great garlic and onion flavor and the tanginess of fresh Parmigiano. I admit this is best fresh off the stove, but it doesn’t stop me from eating the leftovers, either. It’s the perfect go-to side for whatever meal you’re cooking.

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The green beans are pretty amazing too. They’re fresh and crisp, with some acidity from the lemon juice, great savory flavor from the mild shallots and crunchy nuttiness from the walnuts. Plus the finish of the fresh parsley…this is one of those vegetable dishes I could eat for a main course. It’s that good.

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And don’t forget the chicken. I love a great roasted chicken — it makes your house smell delicious, it’s warm and comforting, and the leftovers are fantastic. This one uses some great spices and you will love it.

TW’s Tips

  • Make sure you have a coffee or spice grinder for the chicken spices — otherwise, use already ground spices. It won’t be as potent and flavorful, but grinding spices otherwise is impossible.
  • Eat the chicken skin. Trust me.
  • Don’t overcook the beans. Test them with a sharp knife or fork and keep them nice and crisp.

Roasted Chicken With Moroccan Spices

Ingredients

  • 1 whole chicken, about 3-4 pounds
  • 1 cinnamon stick, chopped in pieces
  • 8 whole cloves
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne
  • 2 teaspoons cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seed
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seed
  • 1 tablespoon sweet paprika
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • Sea salt & freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 lemon, halved
  • 1/4 bunch fresh cilantro
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Directions

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. Rinse chicken with cool water, inside and out – then pat dry with paper towels.

Combine the cinnamon stick, cloves, cayenne, cumin, fennel, coriander and paprika in a dry skillet over low heat and toast for a minute – just to release the fragrant oils – shake pan so spices don’t scorch. In a clean coffee grinder, grind the toasted spices together with the sea salt and brown sugar.

Massage the chicken skin with the spice rub, making sure you don’t miss any spots.
Season the inside of the chicken with salt and pepper. Stuff the lemon halves, cilantro and garlic into the cavity of the chicken. Place the chicken into a roasting pan, fitted with a rack, and fold the wing tips under the chicken and tie the legs together with kitchen string. Drizzle oil all over chicken. If you have the time, let the chicken sit for 30 minutes to really let the flavors meld into the chicken.

Roast the chicken for one hour, then check with an instant read thermometer into the thickest part of the thigh – if it reads 160 degrees F, then it’s done! Take the chicken out of the oven and let it sit for 10 minutes before carving – so the juices can settle back into the meat. Squeeze the lemon halves that have cooked inside the chicken over the meat for added wow.

Cheesy Orzo

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, 2 turns of the pan
  • 1/2 small onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 cans (14 ounces) chicken or vegetable broth or stock
  • 2 cups orzo pasta (enriched rice may be substituted)
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano or Romano
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions

Preheat a 8 inch pot with a tight fitting cover over moderate heat. Add oil, onion and garlic and saute for 2 or 3 minutes. Add broth to the pan and bring to a boil. Stir in orzo and return broth to a boil. Cover pot and reduce heat to simmer. Cook 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until liquid is absorbed and pasta tender. Remove lid and stir in cheese. Season with salt and pepper to your taste. You favorite fresh herbs may also be stirred into the orzo or rice to strengthen the flavor even more.

Green Beans with Caramelized Shallots and Walnuts

Ingredients

  • 1 pound green beans — trimmed
  • 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 large shallots — sliced
  • 1/2 cup walnuts
  • 1 dash sea salt
  • 1 dash freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons fresh flat-leaf parsley — chopped

Directions

Bring a pot of water to boil, blanch the green beans for 3 minutes. Drain and set aside.

Put a skillet over medium heat and add oil. Saute shallots for 3 minutes, stirring frequently, until they begin to soften and get some color. Add the walnuts and cook for 3 more minutes, tossing frequently.

Add the green beans, season with salt and pepper. Toss together and add lemon juice and parsley.

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Mustard-Roasted Fish, Orange Pecan Wild Rice and Roasted Carrots

This meal was a HUGE winner in my book. I was looking for a fairly easy fish recipe, and found this one from Barefoot Contessa: Mustard-Roasted Fish. I loved that you cook it in the oven (no fishy house smell), and I’m a big fan of mustard, capers and Barefoot Contessa so I went for it.

Now, cooking fish can be scary — it’s so easy to overcook and turn the fish into a tough, chewy disaster. But don’t let that deter you. This is super easy, and when you’re cooking in the oven it’s easy to test the fish a few times to make sure you’re not overcooking it.

So…about this fish. Basically…it was absolutely delicious. It was so moist it practically melted in my mouth, and the sauce on top, made up of creme fraiche, two types of mustard for a great tang, shallots and salty capers, was perfect — creamy yet light, and with such a great mustard flavor. I’m in love with it. I’ll be making this again. Maybe next week. Seriously.

I paired the fish with a fancy wild rice, also by Barefoot Contessa, that incorporates grapes, scallions, orange zest and pecans for some nutty crunch. I’m not a big rice fan — I tend to find it boring unless it’s soaking up some delicious curry sauce — but now that it has been a part of my two latest posts (check out the mango-basmati rice salad in my last post) I realize you may not believe me! Let’s suffice to say that this rice has enough going on to make it interesting. In fact, when my friend Kim and I were eating this, I commented that I could eat the rice on its own for a meal — it was that good.

And then the carrots. I’m a big advocate for roasted vegetables. It adds such a nutty, delicious flavor to the vegetables while keeping a good firmness (no mushy veggies here). They caramelize under the high heat, adding a little sweetness…yum. I didn’t have any parsley or dill (I thought I did, but then I didn’t…bummer) so I used tarragon — not the best replacement, and I would definitely go for dill next time around.

TW’s Tips

  • I was cooking for two, so I cut the recipe in half; even then I still had a couple of meals of leftovers. I also cut the carrot recipe in half, and probably should have done the same with the rice!
  • I used tilapia for my fish — any white fish works. Mine also didn’t have the skin — worked just fine.
  • Buy your wild rice from the bulk section at the grocery store — I got the “mixed” type.
  • Creme fraiche can be hard to find but it’s worth seeking out — Whole Foods reliably carries it (look by the sour cream and/or milk) — nothing quite matches its flavor
Make this! You’ll thank me!
Mustard-Roasted Fish
Ingredients
  • 4 (8-ounce) fish fillets such as red snapper
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 ounces creme fraiche
  • 3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon whole-grain mustard
  • 2 tablespoons minced shallots
  • 2 teaspoons drained capers

Directions

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Line a sheet pan with parchment paper. (You can also use an ovenproof baking dish.) Place the fish fillets skin side down on the sheet pan. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper.

Combine the creme fraiche, 2 mustards, shallots, capers, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper in a small bowl. Spoon the sauce evenly over the fish fillets, making sure the fish is completely covered. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fish, until it’s barely done. (The fish will flake easily at the thickest part when it’s done.) Be sure not to overcook it! Serve hot or at room temperature with the sauce from the pan spooned over the top.

Orange Pecan Wild Rice

Ingredients

  • 1 cup wild rice
  • 1 1/4 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 cup seedless green grapes, halved
  • 1/2 cup scallions, sliced in rounds, white and light green parts (2 scallions)
  • 1 cup pecan halves, toasted and coarsely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon grated orange zest
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Directions

Place the rice, chicken stock, 1 1/4 cups water, 1 tablespoon butter, and 1 teaspoon salt in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Cover the pot and lower the heat to simmer (pull the pan halfway off the burner if you need to) and cook for about 1 hour, until the rice is tender and the grains begin to burst open. Stir the rice occasionally while it’s cooking, scraping the bottom of the pan to prevent it from sticking. Turn off the heat, and allow the rice to steam for about 5 minutes.

Stir the remaining tablespoon of butter into the rice, then add the grapes, scallions, pecans, orange zest, orange juice, 1 teaspoon salt, and the pepper and toss well. Taste for seasonings and serve hot.

Roasted Carrots

Ingredients

  • 12 carrots
  • 3 tablespoons good olive oil
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh dill or parsley

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

If the carrots are thick, cut them in half lengthwise; if not, leave whole. Slice the carrots diagonally in 1 1/2-inch-thick slices. (The carrots will shrink while cooking so make the slices big.) Toss them in a bowl with the olive oil, salt, and pepper. Transfer to a sheet pan in 1 layer and roast in the oven for 20 minutes, until browned and tender.

Toss the carrots with minced dill or parsley, season to taste, and serve.