Sunday, June 22, 2008

Easy Chicken Tagine

I have been wanting to test drive my tagine for a while. Ever since we received it as a wedding present, it has been sitting prettily on top of our fridge, taunting me.

(taunting, silent taunting.)

I have a trial next week, so things at work have been pretty hectic, plus I had to work this weekend. Boo. So this recipe fulfills 3 important busy work week requirements:

1) It uses ingredients I already have in the kitchen since I didn't have time to buy lamb at the grocery store.

2) It makes 6-8 servings, plenty of leftovers for my honey and me, since I'll be at the office more often than not this week and won't have time to cook.

3) It's fast to prepare and easy to clean up.

Lovely, savory, and spicy. A hectic schedule does not necessarily equate "home cooked meal" with "Hamburger Helper." Just because you're stressed doesn't mean you can't take the time to smell the cumin and cinnamon is all I'm saying...

7 chicken thighs (boneless, skinned, cut in half and seasoned with salt and pepper)
4 cloves garlic, chopped
4 small onion, sliced into rings
2 tsp turmeric
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp anise seed
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp red chile seeds
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 cup oil (not olive oil)
salt and pepper
4 carrots, peeled and quartered lengthwise
3 small potatos, cut into bite sized pieces
2 tomatoes, cut into wedges
I also threw in some celery. I don't know if North Africans cook with celery, but it was there and I like celery.


(Disclaimer: I made this recipe from 3 or 4 different recipes I found online, and adjusted accordingly to my taste.)

Heat the oil in the tagine over a low heat and sauté the garlic and onions until glassy. Mix in the spices (or grind the spices in a small food processor then dump them in, like I did), then lay the chicken breasts on the bottom. Brown the chicken on both sides.

Spread the potatoes and veggies evenly around the chicken, add about 1 cup water. Cover and simmer over a low heat for 1 1/2 - 2 hours, or 3 episodes of Rescue Me.

When the vegetables are nearly cooked, arrange the tomato wedges over the top. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cover and cook until the vegetables are done (I made some couscous and harissa, and cleaned up a bit during this time, about 20 minutes).

With the couscous and harissa, this dish was scrumptious. If I had some olives around, I would have used them as seasoning, and bought some crusty white bread to sop up the juices - the couscous just did not cut it.

I found this recipe for harissa online, and modified it a bit since I don't have a mesh colander and didn't want to go through the hassle of cleaning my blender:


½ cup of dried chili flakes
1 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 clove of garlic-peeled
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
2 tsp. lemon juice
Salt and pepper

Place a small sauce pan over high heat and bring about 1 cup of water to a boil.

Remove from heat and add the chili flakes to the water - Let them steep for 5 minutes or so. Drain the flakes into a mesh colander (or squeeze the water out using a coffee press like I did). Blend the chili flakes and the rest of the ingredients into a blender (I used my countertop food processor) until the mixture resembles a smooth paste. Salt and pepper to taste.

Overall, a successful tagine christening!

Until next time, Buen Provecho!

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