A few years ago my wife gave me a tagine for my birthday. A tagine is an earthenware pot with a shallow, circular base and a domed or cone-shaped cover. It’s a cooking vessel that’s used all over North Africa and is especially useful for dishes—also called tajines—like this one. If you don’t have a tagine just substitute a large skillet with a lid.
1 3-4 lb. chicken, cut into pieces
1/3 cup slivered or sliced almonds
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 ts. ground ginger
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 1/4 tsp salt
3 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 medium red onion, halved and cut into thin slices
4 minced garlic cloves
5 sprigs flat-leaf parsley (cilantro can also be used – I just don’t like the taste of fresh cilantro) tied into a bundle with kitchen string
1 1/2 cups water or chicken broth
2 Tbsp honey
1 cinnamon stick
1/2 cup dried apricots (Turkish are best, if you can find them) sliced into slivers
1 15 oz. can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
Method for Moroccan-Style Chicken Tagine:
1. Start by roasting the almonds in a dry skillet over medium-low heat until they turn slightly brown. Be careful that you don’t burn them. Set aside for use later.
2. In a large bowl, whisk together the ground cinnamon, ginger, turmeric, black pepper, 1 tsp. salt and 2 tbsp. olive oil until well blended. Add the chicken pieces and turn to coat well.
3. In a tagine or large skillet, heat the butter and 1 tbsp. olive oil over moderate heat until hot. Brown half of the chicken in the oil, skin side down at first, turning over once, about 8 to 10 minutes, until lightly browned. Transfer the browned chicken to a plate and cook the remaining chicken the same way, adding any spice mixture left in the bowl. Transfer this chicken to the plate when browned.
4. Add the red onion to the tagine or skillet and cook, stirring frequently, until soft – about 6-8 minutes.
5. Add garlic and cook, stirring for 2-3 minutes.
6. Next, add the parsley, 1/2 cup of water, the chicken and any leftover juices from the plate. Cover the tagine or skillet, reduce the heat and simmer for 30 minutes.
7. While the chicken is cooking (you can also do this ahead of time), place the sliced apricots, honey, 1 cup of water, and cinnamon stick into a small, heavy saucepan. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes, or until the liquid is reduced to a glaze. If the mixture gets too dry, just add a little water. Remove and discard the cinnamon stick.
8. About 10 minutes before the chicken is finished cooking, remove and discard the parsley or cilantro and add the apricot mixture to the tagine or skillet, along with the garbanzos. Stir to mix well, cover, and cook for another 10 minutes, covered.
9. Serve the chicken sprinkled with almonds on top. I like to serve the chicken with couscous and/or toasted pita or flatbread.
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Originally trained as an anthropologist, Ted Scheffler is a seasoned food, wine & travel writer based in Utah. He loves cooking, skiing, and spends an inordinate amount of time tending to his ever-growing herd of guitars and amplifiers.
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