These bold and delicious grilled chicken thighs are marinated and grilled with big flavors like garlic, lemon, green olives, prunes, olive oil, and a rich spice blend of paprika, cumin, cinnamon, ginger, and turmeric. Serve them with a side dish of couscous studded with chopped pecans, olives, prunes, and sunny lemon.
This post is sponsored by American Pecans.
This summer will feel like a different season for all of us, but there’s one thing that can happily remain the same: grilling. From June through September, I grill just about every fresh food I can get my hands on—from meats to fruits and veggies—and thankfully, I don’t think that’ll change just because we’re in the midst of a pandemic. These Moroccan grilled chicken thighs with pecan couscous have already set the season off with a bang.
They’re outrageously flavorful, thanks to a bold wet rub made with garlic, lemon, green olives, prunes, olive oil, and a rich spice blend of paprika, cumin, cinnamon, ginger, and turmeric. Grilling adds a smoky intensity to the tender thigh meat.
A bed of pecan couscous is the ideal complement, building on the rich Moroccan flavor with tart lemon, fresh parsley, chopped prunes, briney green olives, and plenty of crunchy, naturally sweet pecans.
Why pecans? Well, first of all, our family eats A LOT of pecans. On oatmeal, with veggies, in pies, as an everyday snack…the list goes on. They’re delicious and so versatile. The fact that they’re also extremely nutrient dense makes them that much better to me—a one-ounce serving of pecans gives you 12 grams of “good” monounsaturated fats*, and 3 grams of plant-based protein and fiber. Basically, they elevate the nutrition of whatever you add them to!
*A one-ounce serving of pecans has 18g unsaturated fat and only 2g saturated fat.
Grilled Moroccan Chicken Thighs
The secret to creating bold, rich flavor in our chicken thighs is all in the Moroccan marinade. It’s a thick, wet rub that you’ll make in the food processor and slather all over the chicken before grilling.
Don’t let the list of ingredients intimidate you! Many of them you probably have on hand (like the spices, garlic, and olive oil) and the ones you’ll need to buy are great pantry and fridge staples for a whole slew of other recipes (they won’t go to waste!). Here’s what you’ll need:
Spices: paprika, ground cumin, ground turmeric, cayenne pepper, ground cinnamon, ground ginger, salt, and pepper
Extra-virgin olive oil
Boneless, skinless chicken thighs
Couscous is one of my favorite sides for a few reasons. It’s incredibly quick cooking; it’s easy; and it goes with everything. Here, the fine grains are mixed with big flavor enhancers like lemon, chopped sweet prunes, chopped olives, bright parsley, and crunchy pecans. It’s interesting in terms of taste and texture and creates the perfect base for our Moroccan chicken thighs.
Grilled Moroccan Chicken Thighs with Pecan Couscous
- 1 tbsp paprika
- 1 tbsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp salt
- ¾ tsp ground black pepper
- ¾ tsp ground turmeric
- ¼ tsp cayenne pepper
- ¼ tsp ground cinnamon
- ¼ tsp ground ginger
- 4 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 4 tbsp lemon juice (juice of 2 lemons)
- ¼ cup pitted prunes, coarsely chopped
- ¼ cup pitted green olives
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed
- ¾ cup fresh pecans, chopped
- 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 ½ cups dry couscous
- 2 tbsp lemon juice (juice of about 1 lemon)
- ¼ cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
- ⅓ cup pitted prunes, finely chopped
- ⅓ cup pitted green olives, sliced
- In a small bowl, whisk together the paprika, cumin, 1 teaspoon salt, ¾ teaspoon pepper, turmeric, cayenne, cinnamon, and ginger.
- In a food processor, pulse the olive oil, prunes, olives, garlic, and spice mixture until smooth paste forms, about 1 minute, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Transfer the paste to a large bowl with the chicken thighs and toss to coat them well. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes and up to 1 day.
- On a gas grill, turn all burners to medium-high, cover, and heat until hot, about 15 minutes. Once hot, oil your cooking grates. Arrange chicken on the grill. Cover and cook for 10 minutes, flip over, and cook for an additional 6 to 8 minutes, until the chicken registers 185 degrees on an instant-read thermometer. Transfer the chicken thighs to a platter, tent with aluminum foil, and let rest for 10 minutes.
- While the chicken is grilling, make the couscous: In a medium saucepan, bring the broth, salt, and oil to a boil. Stir in the couscous, cover tightly with a lid, and remove from heat. Let the couscous stand for 5 minutes. Use a fork to fluff the couscous and stir in the lemon juice, parsley, prunes, olives, and pecans. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper as desired.
- Arrange the couscous on a large platter, top with the cooked chicken thighs, and serve with lemon wedges, if desired.