There are many wonderful cooking vessels from around the world, if there’s one thing I do enjoy in the culinary world, it is learning and trying out different ethnic cuisines. Today we are going to feature a tagine.
A tagine is a traditional cooking vessel from North Africa. The unique conical shape of the tagine allows the dish to retain its moisture whilst cooking, rising up the cone and then falling back into the dish locking in the flavor. It does have a small hole at the top however to let some of the steam escape. I love this method of slow cooking as it truly tenderizes the meat and vegetables to perfection. A tagine dish itself is a glorified stew – aromatic and syrupy, zesty and spicy or sweet and fragrant. Fruit, herbs, honey and chilles are flavored for pungency and warmth. I also love that you can bring this dish right from the stove to the table, it is so decorative, made of clay and definitely a conversation piece at the table.
I was fortunate enough to be gifted this beautiful tagine vessel by a very good friend. I knew that I would be using it fairly frequently. We’ve already tried the lamb with dates, olives and preserved lemons. Today, I’m trying out a chicken dish.
I received the recipe book on Moroccan cooking with the tagine itself, so there was no guesswork involved.
I bought a diffuser so that the tagine could sit on it, (see picture above) in other words it was not in direct contact with the flame.
Spicy Chicken Tagine with apricots, rosemary, ginger and harissa
- 2 tablespoons olive oil with a pat of butter
- 1 onion finely chopped
- 3 sprigs of rosemary, 1 finely chopped, the other 2 cut in half
- 1 1/2-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon harissa paste
- 1/2 cinnamon sticks
- 8 chicken thighs
- 3/4 cup dried apricots
- 2 tablespoons clear honey
- 1 x 14oz can plum tomatoes with juice
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- a small bunch of fresh green or purple basil leaves
- preserved lemon skin chopped up in strips for a garnish
- Heat the oil and butter in a tagine or heavy-based casserole dish.
- Stir in the onion, chopped rosemary, ginger and harissa paste and saute until the onion begins to soften.
- Stir in the halved rosemary springs and the cinnamon sticks.
- Add the chicken thighs and brown them on both sides. Toss in the apricots with the honey, then stir in the plum tomatoes with their juices.
- Add a little water or stock if necessary to ensure there is enough liquid to cover the base of the tagine and submerge the apricots.
- Bring the liquid to a boil, then reduce the heat.
- Cover the tagine with the lid and cook gently for 40 minutes.
- Season to taste with salt and pepper. Shred the larger basil leaves and leave the smaller ones intact. Sprinkle them over the chicken and serve immediately over a bed of couscous studded with pomegranate arils.
A heart-warming dish friends that will surely be comforting during the winter months. I will be trying fish and vegetables next.