Friday, June 28, 2013

Food on Friday: Moroccan Chicken Tagine

Given enough time (and a boyfriend willing to wash dishes), cooking is something I truly love to do.  My favorite way to cook is with some good music on, a glass of wine in my hand and Peter in the kitchen to keep me company and deal with any meat we might be cooking.  Preferably, I like to make it an event and then linger at the table afterwards, chatting and relaxing.  

That said, I really only enjoy cooking on weekends or when I have a lot of time.  And sometimes, there are evenings that call for a simple dinner.  That's where this dish comes in.  You see, the taste is anything but simple but the preparation is about as easy as it gets.  

This chicken tagine is the perfect dish for a weeknight because, although it takes about an hour to an hour and a half to cook, there is almost no work involved during that time so you can get around to doing all those weeknight things you need to do.  You can go for a jog or take the dog for a walk.  You can clean the bathroom and start a load of laundry.  You can check emails and pay bills.  Heck, if you have had a particularly stressful day, you could sit down and have a cocktail.  

I wasn't sure what to expect from this chicken tagine.  I had never really had anything like it, but all of the ingredients seemed to be perfectly suited to my and Peter's tastes.  We love anything Mediterranean, Middle Eastern and full of exotic spices.  Although the taste was definitely unique, it was absolutely delicious and bursting with flavor.  I loved the play of the sweet apricots against the more savory ingredients like potatoes and olives.  

I chose to make my own ras el hanout simply because the grocery store version was rather expensive. In the future, I think I will search Turkish grocery stores here for a cheaper version of it so that I will always have some on hand.  Also, because I didn't have preserved lemon wedges, I used a lemon peel and because I didn't have a tagine or a dutch oven, I simply used a large pot with a lid.  It seemed to work perfectly okay, but I would be lying if I didn't say that I totally want one now.  Tagines are so beautiful!  

I found this recipe on the blog Camille Styles, which is full of beautiful recipes, style and entertaining tips. I highly recommend it if you haven't seen it already. 


2 bone-in chicken breast halves with the skin left on, each half cut crosswise to total 4 pieces
2 bone-in chicken thighs with the skin left on
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
3 tablespoons ras el hanout, divided (traditional Moroccan spice blend. Look for it on the spice aisle of the grocery store, or make your own.)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 yellow onion, sliced thinly
1/2 cup dried apricots, halved
8 small potatoes, halved
4 baby carrots, peeled with a bit of the green tops left on if possible
1/2 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley, plus more for garnish
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 cup green olives
3 preserved lemon wedges, rinsed and pulp removed (or you can also use the peel of 1 lemon


Season the chicken all over with kosher salt, freshly ground pepper and 1 tablespoon of ras el hanout. In a tagine or dutch oven, warm the olive oil over medium-high heat. Brown the chicken on all sides (about 7 minutes), then remove from the tagine and set aside.

Add the onions and sauté, stirring, for 3 minutes until they start to soften. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of ras el hanout, and give it a good stir. Add all the rest of the ingredients to the pot, including the browned chicken. Cover and cook over medium heat for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, until the chicken is fully-cooked and very tender.

Serve the chicken and vegetables over couscous or rice, and garnish with flat-leaf parsley.

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