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!

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Tagine of Chicken with Figs and Dates

Tagine of Chicken with dates and figsSummertime is tagine time at our house because summer is when laziness rules supreme.   Tagines are a lazy cooks sort of dish; you heat the tagine, add the first group of components, wait, add the second group of components, wait some more, and then eat.  This is perfect for those summer days where you really have more pressing things than cooking on your mind (such as yard work or laying in a hammock).  If you have a side burner on your grill, you get the added benefit of not heating the house up when you cook.

This particular tagine is a thing of spiced, fruity glory.  The onions are cooked, together with a pile of spices, long enough to caramelize them.  I can promise that soyou will not be left wishing you had more richness in the dish.  The chicken, once added, is cooked together with chicken stock, and the figs and dates.  The end result is a sweet, but not cloying concoction that goes great with some Basmati rice or other similar pilaf.  After everything is in the pot, all you need to remember to do is periodically ladle out some of the excess liquid and reduce it on the stove.  Once thickened to the consistency of thin gravy (or you get tired of reducing it), return it to the tagine as you continue cooking.… 

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Pomegranate Chicken Tagine

Pomegranate ChickenThis dish is one of my favorites among the many, many utterly tasty things that Brinn has formulated over the years.  It is an outgrowth of her long fascination with Moroccan food and tagine cooking in particular.  She typically serves these succulent, slow-cooked, chili and pomegranate coated chicken thighs with savory, oven roasted root vegetables and loaves of fresh street bread for dipping.  The photo to the left shows the chicken alongside another favorite; eggplant with charmoula.  Garnishing with some olives and feta never hurts.

TagineIf you are unfamiliar with tagine cooking, you might want to consider changing that.  Tagines are two-part clay pots made famous by the Berbers in North Africa.  These clay pots were designed to be used over charcoal or open flame and function as something between a steam roaster and a portable oven.  They regulate the moisture of a dish and allow for long cooking times while managing to preserve really clean flavors. Around the house, we use the side burner of our barbecue or single burner butane stoves as a heat source.  More details on tagine suppliers and how to use these really amazing pots next week, as it is a subject worthy of some detail, especially since there will be a lot of tagine recipes posted here in the future…. 

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