Chicken Tagine, Minus the Tagine

A tagine is both the name of a type of slow cooked North African dish and the pot it is supposed to be cooked in. Large and conical in shape, I have long wanted a tagine but have yet to justify such a single-purpose space hog. I’ve promised myself that when I finally get to Morocco I’ll get one. Fortunately, you can obtain the flavors of a tagine dish without the specialty cookware (not exactly, but close). In fact, I don’t even have a lid for the large pan I used, but tin foil proved to be a worthy substitute.

Almost any combination of meat and vegetables can constitute a tagine. For this one I used chicken thighs and legs, seasoned them with ras al hanout and other spices, and simmered them with dried apricots and prunes (excuse me, dried plums). Served over fluffy, steaming cous cous, the savory-sweet dish is rich and satisfying, comforting without being heavy. The dried fruit melts into the juices from the chicken and the broth creating a heady pan sauce. Although tagines are often prepared in the oven, this recipe is done entirely in one pot on the stove.

And while the dish would be an excellent dinner party centerpiece, it comes together in about an hour making it a perfect weeknight meal as well.

Chicken Tagine with Apricots and Prunes

Adapted from Sunset
Yield: 4 Servings

INGREDIENTS:
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 chicken leg/thigh pieces (or 6 to 8 legs, thighs, or any combination)
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
4 large garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon fresh or dry ginger
2 teaspoons ras al hanout, plus more to taste (I’m quite liberal with it and probably use more)
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon ground coriander
Salt and pepper
15 dried apricots, halved
15 pitted prunes, halved
2 cups chicken broth (may need slightly more, up to 4 cups, depending on the size of the pan, etc)
5 parsley stems, plus more for garnish

METHOD:
Heat the oil in a large pan or pot over medium-high heat. Add the chicken, skin-side down, and cook until golden brown, 5 to 7 minutes (cook in batches if pan is too crowded). Turn over and cook 3 minutes more. Transfer to a plate and set aside.

Reduce the heat to medium. Add the onion to the pan and saute until golden, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the garlic and ginger and cook, stirring constantly, for 3 minutes. Add the ras al hanout, turmeric, coriander, salt, and pepper and stir to combine. Return the chicken to the pot and add the apricots, prunes, chicken broth, and parsley. Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce the heat to medium-low, cover (with top or aluminum foil) and simmer for 40 minutes. Serve over couscous.


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