Last winter, our friend A made the most amazing Moroccan chicken. So flavorful, so vibrant was this dish, that many months later, Jay and were still fantasizing about it.
Recently, however, the stars aligned. I saw A, who convinced me to take on the surprisingly simple recipe. Conveniently, too, my housemate gave me the honor of breaking in his gorgeous new Le Creuset tagine. I researched recipes, bought a few key ingredients, set aside a lazy afternoon — and thus began the task of making my first North African dish.
Behold: the Le Creuset tagine, in all its tomato-red glory! Apparently, the conical shape of the lid redirects moisture (and flavor) back into the pan. I’ve read that any heavy-lidded pot will do, but cooking with the tagine was fun regardless.
Step 1: get into a meditative state and chop up onions, garlic, ginger, preserved lemons, kalamata olives, parsley, and cilantro. Step 2: throw all of it in the pot and add saffron and cinnamon. Step 3: inhale all of that aromatic goodness and drool.
From there, it’s as simple as layering your chicken on the pan and letting it simmer for 45 minutes. While our tagine was bubbling merrily away, I whipped up some fancified quinoa to accompany the main dish.
The finished product: fall-off-the-bone, succulent chicken in a reduction that was both hearty and bright. I would pat myself on the back for this one, but this meal was so simple, it almost made itself. Tagine has now landed squarely on top of our list of favorites: Jay’s for reasons of taste, and mine for those of ease and flavor pay-off.
Perfect chicken tagine
I followed, almost to the letter, Felicity Cloake’s recipe for the perfect chicken tagine.
The dish is incredibly forgiving, flexible both in terms of ingredients and timing. Rather than thighs alone, I used a whole chicken, cut into 8 pieces, with the skin and most of the fatty parts taken off. I know, all the good stuff! — but I certainly still enjoyed the meal.
While I am a lemon fiend, I would probably leave out the preserved lemon pulp next time (as suggested by a few commenters on the recipe). I might also rinse the preserved lemons to reduce saltiness. On that note, don’t add salt until you’ve tasted the chicken — I didn’t need any whatsoever.
Quinoa with almonds & raisins
- 1 cup quinoa (I used Trader Joe’s organic tri-color quinoa)
- 2 cups + 2 tablespoons water
- 1/8 cup golden raisins
- 1/8 cup raw sliced almonds
- Rinse the quinoa thoroughly in cold water and drain.
- Add the quinoa, golden raisins, almonds, and water to a saucepan.
- Bring the mixture to a boil and then simmer on low until the water has been absorbed (about 10-15 minutes).