Number-one-and-only son is living in an apartment this summer, so he can't take advantage of the all-you-can-eat cafeteria options available to him during the school year. He called yesterday to request some of his favorite chicken recipes for crock-pot cooking. This is the first one I send him:
MOROCCAN-STYLE CHICKEN TAJINE WITH ALMONDS AND PRUNES* (Serves 6 normal or 4 paranormal or 3 abnormally hungry people)
1/2 cup blanched almonds (or you can use the ones with skins on; nobody's looking!)
1/4 cup sesame seeds
Enough olive oil to coat the bottom of the crock pot, so the food won't stick
2 medium onions, sliced
1 4-lb chicken, cut into 8 serving pieces (or 4 lbs. of chicken thighs, best without skins, although bones are okay. Use organic chicken if you can afford it, because it's better and better for you.)
1 cup pitted dried prunes
1 fresh, ripe pear, thinly sliced or diced
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 cup chicken broth
Toast the almonds in your toaster oven until light golden. Do the same with the sesame seeds. Watch carefully, so they don't go up in flames.
Set aside, except if they're burnt and you have to throw them away and start from scratch. (Always keep extra almonds and sesame seeds on hand, just in case....)
Put the oil and onion slices into the crock pot. Add chicken, prunes, pear, cinnamon, turmeric, salt and pepper, and broth.
Cover the crock pot and cook on high for 6 hours or low for 8.
Go do what you have to do -- work, study, exercise, whatever, and, of course, call your mother.
When the smell of this food gets so amazingly enticing that you can't help taking the lid off the crock pot to check to see if it's done, it's probably done.
Gently mix everything and, if the chicken isn't pink inside, take a taste.
Before serving, sprinkle chicken with toasted almonds and sesame seeds.
Sit down, relax, dig in.
When you're finished, call your mother to thank her for this recipe.
(*With apologies to "The Sephardic Table" by Paula Grau Twena)