A quick and easy one-skillet camping meal, this pan-fried dry-rubbed Moroccan spiced chicken is loaded with great flavor but takes less than 15 minutes to prepare.
Many traditional Moroccan recipes make use of a tagine, a cone-shaped cooking vessel that produces mouthwateringly delicious braises. While tagine cooking is incredible, it presents a couple of problems for campers.
First, most people don’t own a tagine. Second, tagines need a long time to slowly simmer. Not exactly ideal when the sun is setting and dinner would be nice to have about now-ish.
So how can we capture all that multi-layered Moroccan flavor while reducing the cooking time?
It’s time for another one-pot wonder! But we’ll do it in two phases.
For the first part of this recipe, we dry rub the chicken in a Moroccan spice blend, then pan-fry it in a cast-iron skillet with a thin layer of oil. For the second part, we use the same flavor-loaded skillet to cook the couscous.
One layer of flavor builds onto the next, producing a camp-friendly meal with a lot of depth.
Ingredients for Moroccan Chicken
Chicken: We prefer bone-out skinless thighs for this. You want to be able to really crisp the outside, while not accidentally overcooking the inside. Thighs are great for this.
Couscous: This is by far the fastest cooking grain/pasta out there, which makes it ideal for camping. Just add to boiling water, turn off the heat, cover, and wait 5 minutes.
Apricots, Parsley, Almonds: We used a few different ingredients to give our couscous some texture and flavor, but here you can mix and match a little. We also used parsley for its pastoral flavor, but we suspect the dish would taste great with mint too. We used apricots for their sweetness, but golden raisins or chopped dates would work as well. Almonds for their crunch, but pine nuts or sliced cashews would also work.
Ras El Hanout: The star ingredient of this recipe. It’s a combination of cinnamon, cumin, coriander, ginger, cardamom, pepper, paprika, and turmeric. Buying all these spices separately would cost a lot, but thankfully ras el hanout is available in most grocery store’s spice section.
Cast Iron Skillet: We really recommend a cast-iron skillet for this recipe. You can get it a lot hotter than a non-stick, so you can crisp up the outside of the chicken nicely. Plus it allows you to build up the flavor on the bottom of the skillet. Definitely go with cast iron for this one.
Lid (for said skillet): If you have a Dutch oven, you can use the same lid for a similar-sized cast iron skillet. If you don’t have a lid for your skillet, you can pick one up here. But in a pinch, you can use an enamelware camping plate or sheet of foil as a lid. Anything to trap the steam.
Wooden Spoon: When deglazing the skillet, you will want to be able to scrape up all the brown delicious bits that got caked to the bottom. A good wooden spoon will allow you to do this without accidentally damaging your skillet’s seasoning.
See our complete guide to camping kitchen equipment for more info about camp cooking gear.
How to make Moroccan Spice-Rubbed Chicken
First things first. Start warming up your cast iron skillet with some neutral flavor cooking oil. You’ll be cooking at medium-high heat, so a higher-smoke point oil like grapeseed or canola is going to be a better option than olive oil.
Apply a liberal amount of Ras el Hanout as a dry rub to your chicken thighs. When the skillet is hot, lay them in. Cook in batches if necessary, so as not to overcrowd.
As the exterior of the chicken starts to crisp, the skillet will start to develop fond. Fond, which is French for “base”, is essentially the brown bits and caramelized drippings of the meat that forms on the bottom of the skillet. When the chicken is done, we remove it from the skillet and start on phase two.
Pour the water into the skillet, which will immediately start to steam, hiss, and boil. Using your wooden spoon or spatula, quickly scrape the fond until all or most of it releases and mixes with the water. Add in the couscous, cut the heat, and cover.
All the used cooking oil, drippings, and leftover seasoning in the pan now are used to help cook the couscous, adding tons of flavor. While the couscous cooks, you can slice the chicken. After five minutes, remove the lid, stir in the other ingredients (apricots, parsley, almonds) and place the chicken on top.
By layering flavors on top of each other, this Moroccan Spiced Chicken dish tastes a lot bigger than a meal that was cooked only 15 minutes.
More one skillet camping meals
One Skillet Moroccan Spiced Chicken Over Couscous
- 2 boneless skinless chicken thighs
- 2 teaspoons ras el hanout
- 1 teaspoon salt, optional, if your ras el hanout blend does not already contain salt
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- Coat the chicken thighs with ras el hanout and salt. Heat a tablespoon of oil in a skillet over medium heat and add the chicken. Cook until the internal temperature reaches 165F, turning once, about 5-6 minutes on each side (timing will be dependent on how thick the thighs are).
- Remove the chicken from the pan and set aside.
- Add ⅓ cup water, oil, salt, and the couscous to the pan, cover, and remove from the heat. Let the couscous steam for 5 minutes, until tender.
- In the meantime, slice the chicken into bite-sized pieces.
- Once the couscous is tender, fluff with a fork and add the almonds, apricots, parsley, lemon juice, and ¼ teaspoon ras el hanout. Stir to combine.
- Serve the chicken over a bed of couscous. Enjoy!