Y'all, I have a treat for you! As you know, I don't cook. 99% of the cooking at my house is done by my partner, Mark. Tonight, Mark made one of my very favorite meals, chicken tagine. And because I am really really nice to him, he agreed to do a guest post so that WINOW readers can create this wonder in their own homes if they have the urge. Sweet! So, without further ado, I give you Mark:
Take one chicken (I like free-range organic ones) - butcher, reserving back for stock and breasts for another meal. Marinate wings, legs and thighs (I leave the wings whole as well as the leg/thighs), with skin on in:
2 teaspoons Harissa (Morroccan spice paste; I get mine from chefshop.com from a line called Mustapha's).
2 teaspoons Ras el-Hanout (Arabic spice mixture; its got like 20 different things in it, including Fennugreek, Rosehips, etc. inimitable in my opinion. Can be kind of hard to find.)
1 tbls olive oil
copious sea salt and fresh black pepper
Rub this mixture all over the chicken parts and leave to marinate for a while (all day would be great, but I've done it just for like 20 minutes and it works fine). Remember to wash your hands. Harissa in your eyes really sucks.
Brown the chicken parts (starting skin side down) in a hot dutch over or other similarly sized dish in some olive oil ( like 2 tsps - not too much). Get some nice caramelized browness all over the chicken but be sure not to let the brown bits in the bottom burn. Keep an eye on the heat and regulate. You should see a fair amount of dusty, henna-colored oil in the bottom.
Once the chicken parts are nice and brown, remove to a dish and add:
1 whole chopped yellow onion - chopped pretty fine, but no need to mince
2 carrots , chopped - abou the same size as the onions.
Use the moisture released from the veg to deglaze the pan, scraping up all the delicious brown stuff stuck to the pan with a wooden spoon. Make sure you get it all up. Add some salt and pepper while you're deglazing - helps release liquid.
After most of the moisture cooks out of the veg - 5 to 10 minutes, add
4-5 cloves of minced garlic
a few tsps of minced fresh thyme (not essential, but nice)
½ of a large preserved lemon, diced or minced (I make my own, but you can use the store bought stuff. Just scrape off all the flesh and dice the skin, including the pith. You should have about a tblsp or more).
Stir this around for a few minutes, letting the garlic sauté in the oil and get fragrant with the thyme and the lemon. Then add:
2 cans chickpeas
2 cans tomatoes - you can use whatever format you want here I think. I usually use whole peeled, and crush them into bits by hand as I use them. But you can use diced or whatever too.
1 whole dried bay leaf.
Stir that all around, get it all mixed up, and then add maybe a little more salt and pepper.
Add the reserved chicken back in, burying it in the veg mixture, and add back any of the juices released by the chicken.
Bring to a simmer, cover and let cook for at least an hour at a slight simmer - you should see bubbles, but not many and not too frequently. You really have to keep an eye on the heat. Alternatively, you could put it in a slow oven, but you have to keep an eye on it. Stir and turn the chicken a few times during the cooking, making sure to scrape the bottom.
Towards the end of cooking, remove the pieces of chicken, take the skin off and discard, strip the meat from the bones and connective tissue and add it back to the tagine. Let it simmer and thicken uncovered for a while until it reaches the thickness you want with the shredded chicken in there and its ready to serve.
I check it for seasoning at the end, adding more salt, pepper, fresh lemon juice, thyme (or parsley) or harissa to taste.
I serve it with coucous made with toasted pine nuts and sliced almonds, dried cranberries and seasoned with cardamom, ginger, cinnamon and cloves.
Grace again. Sounds good, huh? It's also pretty healthy. This recipe makes about 6 servings, and each is about 7 WW points, by my count (plus however much couscous you eat with it, of course). And it reheats wonderfully, and freezes well.
Don't forget to kiss the cook!