An easy and flavourful ‘comfort food’ meal!
Recently, I was delighted to receive as gifts a Moroccan cookbook and a handmade clay tagine, the conical cooking dishes commonly used to prepare food in African nations such as Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya and others. As is typical of many Moroccan dishes, the first recipe I chose to make in my new tagine is one that relies on low and slow cooking to allow the meat to become very tender and infused with all the flavours of the spices and other elements in the dish. If you don’t have a tagine, you can easily prepare this recipe using a Dutch oven, or a casserole dish with a tight lid. In addition, we found it even more delicious on day two, so you may wish to consider preparing it ahead of time then reheating it to serve over couscous or rice to soak up the delicious sauce that forms in the pan as the chicken cooks. If you are a fan of the typical Moroccan flavour profile, you might also like this delicious carrot salad or this meatball and vegetable stew.
- 1 tablespoon Ras El Hanout spice mixture (can be purchased or make your own )
- 6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs (about 1.3 lbs or 600 g)
- 3 tablespoons (45 mL) olive oil
- 1 onion, thickly sliced
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
- 2 tablespoons (30 mL) honey
- 1/2 teaspoon (.35 g) saffron
- 1 cup (250 mL) chicken stock, plus more if needed
- 1/2 cup (75 g) cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
- 1/2 cup (95 g) dried apricots, halved
- 1/2 cup (90 g) pitted green olives, halved
- 1/3 cup (36 g) slivered almonds
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup (8 g) chopped fresh coriander leaves, to garnish
- Fresh lemon wedges, to serve
- Place clay tagine (base and lid) on a baking tray (to catch any drippings that bubble out while cooking) and place in an oven and set to 315F, removing upper rack(s) as needed to accommodate the tagine’s lid. This step is not necessary if using a Dutch oven or casserole dish (but if using those, select ones that are no more than 10 inches (25 cm) across so the ingredients will snuggle in together tightly).
- Put the Ras El Hanout in a broad, shallow bowl then add the chicken thighs, turning to coat evenly.
- Heat a heavy duty skillet (cast iron is ideal), or the Dutch oven, if that’s what you’ll be using in place of the tagine in the oven. Add 1 tablespoon (15 mL) of the olive oil and sear the chicken on all sides for 2-3 minutes, or until golden-brown all over. Transfer the browned chicken a clean plate.
- Add the remaining olive oil to the same skillet and sauté the onion and garlic for 2-3 minutes, or until softened.
- While onion and garlic are cooking, stir together the chicken stock, honey and saffron.
- Add the seared chicken to the preheated tagine (or casserole dish) followed by the sautéed onion and garlic plus the tomatoes, apricots, olives and almonds. Sprinkle salt and pepper over top, then drizzle the chicken stock mixture, taking care not to fill the base of the tagine or casserole any more than 3/4 full with liquid. If using a Dutch oven, put the seared chicken on the bottom, scoop the sautéed onion and garlic over top, then add all the other ingredients except the garnishes. Cover tagine, casserole or Dutch oven with the lid and roast in the oven for 2 hours, until chicken is very tender.
- Remove the lid and cook for a further 30 minutes, or until the tagine is slightly thickened. Taste and add more salt and freshly ground black pepper, if desire. Sprinkle with chopped coriander and serve over hot cooked couscous or rice.