For those unfamiliar with the cuisine of Morocco, its tastes are layered, subtle and absolutely delicious, blending both sweetness and heat. Spices such as cinnamon, cumin, coriander and peppers are typically combined with fruit and meat, often in slowly-simmered tagines which are as fragrant as they are flavourful. While true tagines require a special earthenware cooking pot nestled for several hours on bed of hot coals, this quick chicken stew can be prepared in a regular casserole dish, in the oven, in under an hour. You could also make it in a slow cooker, if that’s your preference. Serve the chicken stew over couscous, rice or quinoa to soak up the delicious sauce. If making for a dinner party, consider leaving the chicken breasts intact for a more elegant presentation. One final tip: make a double batch. It freezes beautifully.
- 1.5 lbs (750 g) skinless, boneless chicken breasts or thighs
- 3 tablespoons (45 mL) olive oil, divided
- ½ cup (125 mL) diced onion
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon (15 mL) finely-chopped ginger
- 1 teaspoon (5 mL) freshly-ground coriander seeds
- 1/3 cup (90 mL) currants
- ½ cup (125 mL) water
- 2 cups (500 mL) medium or hot salsa
- 2 tablespoons (30 mL) honey
- 5 teaspoons (7.5 mL) powdered cumin
- 1 teaspoon (5 mL) ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon (1.25 mL) powdered cloves
- ½ cup (125 mL) slivered almonds, toasted
- 2 tablespoons (30 mL) fresh coriander leaves, chopped
- Grated orange zest
- Preheat oven to 325F (160C).
- Cut chicken into ¾ inch (2 cm) pieces.
- Place a large skillet over medium heat. Add 2 tablespoons (30 mL) of the olive oil; when it is warm, add chicken and brown (about 4 minutes per side), turning for even cooking.
- Remove browned chicken from pan and place it in a medium casserole dish.
- Add remaining 1 tablespoon (15 mL) oil to skillet and sauté onions till softened (about 3 minutes). Add garlic, ginger and crushed coriander seeds and cook, stirring, for two minutes more.
- Sprinkle cooked onion mixture over cooked chicken in the casserole dish, then scatter currants over top.
- In a bowl or glass measure, combine water, salsa, honey, cumin, cinnamon and cloves. Pour over chicken mixture.
- Cover casserole with a tight lid (or use foil) and bake for 45 minutes.
- Serve on a bed of couscous, rice or quinoa. Garnish with almonds and coriander, then quickly grate a little orange zest over each serving.
- Note that you can easily make this dish ahead of time and gently reheat it in the oven or microwave.