Summertime 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.
There is surprising little to know about cooking this dish. It is a good idea, as with most tagines, to take a little care in arranging the chicken. We have found that the chicken cooks a little more uniformly if you arrange the chicken pieces in circle in the one piece overlapping the one next to it, sort of like chicken flavored shingles. Oh, also make sure to marinade your chicken for a good, long time. You will be rewarded with a complex, deeply flavored meal that will make you proud to be a sloth.
- 4 to 5 chicken thighs (bone in)
- 2 tsp. cumin, ground
- 1 tsp. paprika, ground
- 1 tsp. black pepper, crushed
- 1 tsp. salt
- 3 Tbs. olive oil
- 1 large red onion, sliced
- ½ large white onion, chopped
- 4 garlic cloves, chopped
- 1 tsp. coriander, ground
- 2 tsp. cinnamon
- ¾ to 1 cup chicken broth (hot)
- ½ cup figs, halved
- ½ cup dates, halved
- ½ to ¾ cup slivered almonds
- Combine cumin, paprika, pepper and salt in a bowl. Rub mixture over chicken thighs, loosening the chicken skin to ensure that the rub coats flesh of chicken beneath. Set aside, refrigerated for at least 1 to 2 hours, preferably overnight.
- Heat tagine over medium flame. Add oil, garlic, and onions. Cook uncovered until softened. Add coriander, cinnamon, and broth to tagine, cover and cook until onions caramelize.
- Arrange chicken in a circular pattern in the tagine, cover and cook over medium to medium low for about 30 minutes. Turn or flip chicken. Add the dates and figs.
- Remove excessive fluid and reduce in a small saucepan to form a thickened sauce. Return sauce to the pan and continue cooking another 30 minutes. Remove and reduce additional fluid if required. Add almonds immediately prior to serving.