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Moroccan Chicken and Vegetable Stew

This North African stew of tender chicken thighs with chunks of vegetables produces a substantial amount of fragrant spiced broth to spoon generously over a bed of couscous. Four meaty lamb shanks are a delicious substitute for those who prefer a more traditional flavor. Take care when cutting the acorn squash, as it is hard and slippery.

1 acorn squash (about a pound)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 medium carrots, cut into 1/2-inch-thick rounds
1 onion, sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
6 chicken thighs (about 2 pounds), skin removed optional
1 3/4 cups double-strength chicken broth
1 15-ounce can garbanzo beans (chickpeas), drained and rinsed
1/3 cup dark raisins
1 box instant couscous to accompany
Hot pepper sauce to pass

Cut the acorn squash crosswise into 3/4-inch-thick rings and scoop out the seeds. Cut the rings into quarters and pare off the skin. A potato peeler works fine.

In a small bowl, combine the salt, cinnamon, ginger, turmeric and pepper.

In a 3 1/2- or 4-quart slow cooker, combine the acorn squash, carrots, onion and garlic. Sprinkle half the spice mixture over the vegetables. Arrange the chicken thighs over the vegetables and sprinkle them with the remaining spice mixture.

Pour in the chicken broth, cover, and slow-cook until the chicken shows no sign of pink at the bone when prodded with the tip of a sharp knife, about 6 hours on low (200 degrees). (Lamb will take about 7 hours.)

During the last 30 minutes of cooking, add the garbanzo beans and the raisins. Serve with couscous and an occasional shake of hot sauce.

"Ready and Waiting" by Rick Rodgers

Thursday, January 13, 2000

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