Chicken Tagine with Apricots and Almonds

Chicken Tagine with Apricots

This is the main dish that we made for Friday dinner with my friend Jason this week. The concept originated from recipe in Paula Wolfert’s book Food of Morocco, but ended up straying a bit far from the original. For those of you not familiar with tagines, the term refers to both a slow cooked dish and the lidded clay vessel in which it is cooked. For this one, chicken thighs are treated with a spice rub and allowed to rest overnight prior to slow cooking them in our large tagine for over an hour. At about the half-way point, vegetables and a reduced orange and apricot sauce are added. Shortly prior to serving, finishing vegetables are added and the dish is garnished with almonds and cilantro.

The end result is a delightfully flavored dish of melt off the bones chicken that is, surprisingly, moderately spiced. The apricot reduction adds tartness that accents the piney flavor of the parsnips perfectly. A couple of notes on ingredients: 1) this dish uses saffron-infused water in the spice rub. This is a much more efficient method for using saffron as it reduces waste and adds consistency. There is a link for making saffron water at the bottom of the post. 2) We buy our ras el hanout from a local spice vendor, but it is fairly simple to make. The formulation on food.com is pretty similar to what we use. 3) As noted above, this dish mildly, but adequately spiced. If you are looking for a more intensely spiced tagine, I recommend adding additional spices to the apricot reduction, add a bit more fluid (stock) and add it to the dish earlier in the cooking process.

For the rest of the meal, we served ground nut soup, steamed asparagus with vinaigrette, and a semolina-based yeast bread for dipping. Hope you enjoy!

… 

Read More »

Chickpea and Spinach Soup Flavored with Cumin and Tahini

Garbanzo Spinach SoupThis is a rich one…and considerably less spicy than most things that we have on our table.  I do believe that this particular soup will be a repeat visitor to our table.  It fills a somewhat special niche in the soup world; it is a creamy soup that does not involve cooking with cream.  For anyone that has had the unpleasant experience of breaking and thereby rendering a cream-based soup…unpleasant (or at least very unattractive), you will probably understand the immediate appeal.  Instead, this soup uses a combination of tahini and starch to lend a thick, rich texture that, while not a direct substitute for cream, gets pretty close.

This soup packs highly flavorful punch from the combination of cumin and coriander.  I think that the combination of the chickpeas and potatoes softens the impact of this spice combination, allowing the distinct flavor of the saffron to shine.  The flavor profile is finished off with a small dose of cayenne.  The cayenne doesn’t really provide much heat, but has a sharpness that balances the dish.

This was a great lead in to a period of soup experimentation that we went through last month.  This soup spree was kicked off by the arrival of our flameware dutch over from Clay Coyote Pottery.   This is an amazing piece of gear.  Stylish, durable, and really, really consistent in application of heat.  The best part is that it can be use on flame, electric, glass, whatever.  I couldn’t be more pleased with this new addition to the kitchen.  It pretty much lives on our stove top and will probably be supplemented by on of their flameware tagines.

black-swirl-divider-sm

 

Chickpea and Spinach Soup Flavored with Cumin and Tahini
 
Adapted from 400 Soups by Anne Sheasby
Recipe type: Soup
Cuisine: Mediterranean
Ingredients
  • 2 Tbs. Olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, sliced
  • ½ large red onion, ½ chopped, ½ thinly sliced
  • 1½ tsp. cumin, roated and ground
  • 1½ tsp corriander, roasted and ground
  • 3 cups stock
  • 1 medium potato, peeled and cut into small cubes
  • pinch saffron
  • 1½ to 2 cups cooked chickpeas
  • ½ tsp. cornstarch
  • ¼ cup water
  • 4 Tbs. Tahini
  • 5 oz. spinach
  • ¼ tsp. cayenne
Instructions
  1. In large stock pot, heat the oil and saute the onion and garlic over medium-high heat until softened. Stir in the cumin and corriander and cook until fragrant, about 2 to 3 minutes.
  2. Add the stock, the saffron, and potato. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer about 15 minutes. Add the chickpeas and simmer an additional 5 minutes.
  3. Whisk together the cornstarch, water, and tahini. Add to soup incrementally while stirring, Add spinach and cayenne. Simmer an additional several minutes to blend flavors and thicken.