He’s really, messily into it, in a way that neither my husband nor I remember our daughter being.
In fact, I spent a bemused dinner hour a few nights ago spoon-feeding my three-and-a-half-year-old daughter the same pasta that my nearly-eight-month-old son was happy shoveling into his mouth unassisted.
That she was eating that pasta at all was down to her being willing to try it only because her brother seemed to like it so much that curiosity got the better of her – not curious enough to pick up the spoon and feed herself, mind you, but enough to agree (with a certain indulgent air) to give it a try for Mama.
And yes, I did consider that a victory.
I know that in time the other shoe will drop, and our boy will become, at least for a while, as picky about what goes in his mouth as our girl is at the moment, but for now, we’re happy to take advantage of his willing palate with dishes like this one.
I think the secret ingredient here is the ras al hanout, which is reportedly a blend of over 20 spices and goes a long way toward adding authenticity to my attempts at Morroccan cooking, about which I know not a great deal. I got my little jar, made by a company called The Epicentre, from this great store in our neighbourhood.
I also think this would be a great slow cooker recipe, but as my kitchen is not equipped with that particular fabulous appliance, I can’t be entirely sure.
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp each coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp ground sumac
750 g boneless, skinless chicken thighs
2 medium onions, diced
a 2″ piece of fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
a 796 ml (28 oz.) can San Marzano tomatoes and their juice
juice of a lemon
1 tsp ras al hanout (see note at the beginning of this recipe)
8 dried apricots, finely chopped
1/2c canned coconut milk, plus more if needed to thin sauce
fresh coriander leaves, for garnish
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
In a large, heavy ovenproof skillet with lid, heat olive oil over medium-high heat.
Stir together thyme, salt, pepper and sumac in a large, shallow dish. Add chicken thighs and turn to coat with spices. Add thighs to hot oil in pan and brown well, turning once, about 5 minutes or so per side. Remove thighs.
Add chopped onions to pan and cook, stirring frequently, until golden, 7-8 minutes. Add ginger and garlic and cook, stirring, a further 2-3 minutes, until very fragrant.
Add tomatoes with their juices and lemon juice, breaking up tomatoes with the back of a wooden spoon as you stir. Add ras al hanout, apricots, and coconut milk. Stir well.
Return chicken to pan. nestling the thighs into the sauce a little bit. Bring to a simmer, then cover and transfer to hot oven.
Cook about an hour, until chicken is tender and the house is filled with lovely smells. Serve over couscous and garnish with coriander leaves.