One cook's best dish

North African chicken

(Michele Mcdonald for The Boston Globe)
June 9, 2010

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Serves 4


2 1/2 tablespoons ground cumin
2 tablespoons ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon whole fennel seed
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1. In a bowl, stir together the cumin, coriander, cinnamon, allspice, paprika, cloves, chili powder, cayenne, fennel seed, and black pepper.

2. If making in advance, store in an airtight container.


2 large boneless chicken breasts (about 8 ounces each)
1/4 cup mayonnaise
Juice of 1 Meyer lemon (or substitute regular lemon)
Pinch of crushed red pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 wedges of Meyer or regular lemon (for garnish)

1. Holding a knife blade parallel to the cutting board, slice each chicken breast horizontally to make two thinner pieces (4 total). Pat chicken dry; set aside.

2. In a small bowl, combine the mayonnaise, lemon juice, and red pepper; set aside.

3. Coat each piece of chicken liberally with the rub; it should coat the entire surface. Gently press the rub into the chicken to help it adhere; shake off excess rub. Set aside.

4. In a heavy skillet over medium-high heat, heat the olive oil. When the oil is hot, place the chicken pieces in the pan (do not crowd; cook in batches if necessary).

5. Cook for 4 minutes on a side, making sure the rub doesn’t burn. If necessary, lower the heat a bit. When the chicken is just cooked, remove it from the pan. If you like, slice the chicken on the diagonal. Arrange on 4 plates.

6. Drizzle the chicken with a generous spoonful of the sauce. Garnish with a lemon wedge.

Adapted from M. Charles Beach