Well….welcome to my new blog! I decided to start this blog as a way to get my recipes out there and to stay connected with the food community. I am a huge fan of food blogs – and peruse them daily – so when my husband got me a DSLR camera for Christmas – the first thing I had to do was start shooting the food that I was cooking to share on a blog!
I hope you all enjoy the blog and the pictures!
Ok – so onto my first recipe post. Anyone that knows me knows that I love me some tagine. What’s a tagine you ask…..well….basically it’s a cooking vessel used a lot in Moroccan cooking. It’s typically a clay pot that has a wide circle base and a conical top lid that comes off. The reason a tagine is so awesome is because it keeps all the juices circulating inside the meat/vegetables and allows the flavors to really get into the dish while remaining deliciously moist. And let’s be honest – it looks pretty cool too. And makes me feel exotic while cooking. Tagine is also part of the recipe name – so when I refer to a chicken tagine – it’s the name of the recipe – not only the dish it’s used to cook it in.
And this is the ironic part of my story – I actually don’t currently have a working tagine! Ha! My husband was heating up the tea-pot one night and hit the wrong dial on the stove – instead heating my empty tagine on high heat – until it cracked! Lesson learned…..and so therefore, I bring you a recipe for chicken tagine – cooked in a dutch oven – don’t judge.
This recipe is inspired from a cookbook that came with my tagine – it may sound strange to you – but I swear – you have to try it and you’ll love it! I made it for my entire family in Cleveland – and they all loved it. My husband and I have this once a month typically – it’s that good and easy.
First things first – make the marinade. Above is a picture of the items you’ll need for the marinade – minus the saffron which I forgot to include. But you’ll need a pinch of that as well. Combine the diced onion, cilantro, lemon juice and zest, saffron, salt and pepper in the food processor. Once it gets to an even consistency, drizzle in the olive oil as the motor is running – and the finished product should look like this:
Spread the marinade over the chicken and refrigerate for at least an hour…..but preferably up to three hours. To be completely honest….I usually forget about the marinating time – and so therefore typically only marinate my chicken for 10 minutes – and it’s just as good. So. Do whatever works best for you. I won’t judge you. I swear.
After you let the chicken marinate – heat up a tagine (or dutch oven) on the stove over medium high heat with a T. of olive oil. You won’t need anymore olive oil than that b/c we’re using bone-in/skin-on chicken thighs which will give off a lot of fat once you brown the skin. Take the chicken out of the marinade and kind of shake off any big clumps of the marinade hanging onto the chicken. Then proceed to brown the chicken in the olive oil. Skin side down at first – that way the skin will crisp up and a lot of the fat will come out of the skin. Don’t worry if the oil starts to get dark….it doesn’t affect the flavor. Brown the chicken in small batches – if you overcrowd the pan it will just make the chicken steam – and the skin will be gross and limp.
Now we get to the fun part….put the remaining marinade into the pan once you have removed the chicken….allow that to cook up slightly – then add in some spices! I add turmeric and cumin – the turmeric adds a great flavor (in addition to the color the saffron gives off) and the cumin adds a deep smoky warm flavor to the dish. Neither of them are overpowering – no fear!
Sidenote: when buying spices such as turmeric, cumin, cardamom, coriander, cayenne, fennel, etc. — save $$$ and go to an Indian or Middle Eastern store. Don’t be nervous about going to those stores….the price and quantity of spices there are unbeatable.
Ok where was I – Oh yeah, so now you can put the chicken (and juices….don’t forget the juices) back into the onion/cilantro/spice mixture – and cover with about a cup of water (or until the water is half way up the chicken). Cover with the lid and allow to simmer for 25 minutes.
In the meantime….get the stuff prepared to finish off the dish. Preserved lemons and green olives. Now….preserved lemons are one of those things that I had heard about but had no idea what they were. Basically – they are lemons that have been quartered (but still connected) and slathered with salt. Then jarred in water for a while – and you get preserved lemons. I bought mine from the Middle Eastern store nearby – this is what they look like – funny little things:
How you prepare the preserved lemons: use a paring knife to slice out the inside of the lemon – so all you have are the peels remaining. Most recipes say to put slices of the lemon in the dish – but I find that too overwhelming. I like the flavor of the preserved lemons to be dispersed throughout the dish – so I suggest chopping them up into tiny pieces.
After 25 minutes – add in the olives (mine were small so I kept them whole) and the preserved lemon peel – plus 1 t. oregano. Stir – then cover with the lid and allow to continue to simmer for 20 – 25 minutes – or until the sauce is the consistency that you like. If the sauce is too thin – take the lid off the dish, remove the chicken, and turn the heat up on the stove and allow the sauce to reduce.
Serve with cilantro couscous (recipe to come) and pita/flatbread/naan. Yummy!!! I eat this dish by taking pieces of the bread and using that to grab the chicken, sauce and couscous. I hope you try this recipe out for yourselves!
6 – 8 bone-in/skin-on chicken thighs (boneless skinless can be substituted)
1 bunch cilantro
1 medium white onion
1 t. saffron
2 T. lemon juice
zest of 1 lemon
1/4 c. olive oil
salt and pepper
3/4 – 1 c. water
1 t. turmeric
1 t. cumin
2 T. preserved lemon peel
1/2 – 3/4 c. green olives
1 t. oregano
1. Combine all ingredients for marinade in food processor (except the olive oil).
2. Once all marinade ingredients blend together – drizzle in the olive oil.
3. Put marinade over chicken and allow to set for 1 – 3 hours.
4. Brown chicken in single layer in tagine/dutch oven. Brown both sides.
5. Take chicken out of pan after browning and add in remaining marinade to the pot.
6. Sprinkle in the cumin and turmeric – allow spices to cook for 1 minute.
7. Add chicken to the pot – skin side up
8. Add in water – half way up the sides of the chicken and cover with lid – allow dish to simmer for 25 minutes.
9. Peel and chop the preserved lemon peel.
10. Sprinkle in preserved lemon, olives, and oregano onto the chicken and stir into the dish.
11. Let simmer for 25 more minutes or until the sauce is the correct consistency.
12. Serve over cilantro couscous and with pita.