Thursday, July 14, 2011
A tagine is a North African earthenware conical cooking vessel. We'd normally associate Moroccan food with a tagine. A tagine is also the name of the dish that's cooked in the vessel. These tagines go from the very basic to the completely elaborate with a multitude of reasons why each is better than the next. The beauty for me is that you can stove top or in oven cook with it, use it as a serving vessel and it retains heat for a very long time.
I bought my tagine quite a while ago and every time I cook with it I remind myself that I simply don't use it enough. This time was no different. Craving some flavourful Moroccan chicken I decided to make a simple Lemon Chicken with Olives recipe using the preserved lemons I made a few months ago. If you've never preserved lemons, it's just so easy and the result is nothing short of amazing. Check out How To by David Liebovitz
I found an interesting recipe HERE
•1 whole chicken, skin removed, cut into pieces
•2 large white or yellow onions, very finely chopped
•one small handful of fresh cilantro, chopped*
•one small handful of fresh parsley, chopped*
•2 or 3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped or pressed
•2 teaspoons ginger
•1 teaspoon pepper
•1 teaspoon turmeric (or 1/4 teaspoon Moroccan yellow colorant)
•1/2 teaspoon salt
•1/4 teaspoon saffron threads, crumbled (optional)
•1 teaspoon smen (Moroccan preserved butter - optional)
•1 handful green or red olives, or mixed
•1 preserved lemon, quartered and seeds removed
•1/3 cup olive oil
•1/4 cup water, approximately
* Instead of chopping, you can tie the parsley and cilantro together into a bouquet and place on top of the chicken during cooking.
Prepare the Chicken
Remove the flesh from the preserved lemon, and finely chop it. Add the chopped lemon flesh to a bowl along with the chicken, onion, garlic, cilantro, parsley, spices and smen, and mix well. If time allows, let the chicken marinate in the refrigerator for several hours or even overnight.
To Cook the ChickenAdd enough of the olive oil to the tagine to coat the bottom. Arrange the chicken in the tagine (flesh-side down), and distribute the onions all around.
Add the olives and preserved lemon quarters, and drizzle the remaining olive oil over the chicken. Add the water to the tagine, cover, and place on a diffuser over a medium-low heat.
Give the tagine time to reach a simmer without peaking. If you don't hear the tagine simmering within 20 minutes, slightly increase the heat, and then maintain the lowest heat setting required for maintaining a gentle, not rapid, simmer.
Allow the chicken to cook undisturbed for 80 to 90 minutes, and then turn the chicken over so that it's flesh side up. Cover the tagine again, and allow the chicken to finish cooking until very tender.
Turn off the heat, and let the tagine to cool for about 10 to 15 minutes before serving. Moroccan tradition is to eat directly from the tagine, using Moroccan bread to scoop up the chicken and sauce. French fries are frequently served with this dish, and may even be placed on top of the chicken.
Notes: I used chicken legs instead of whole chicken - it was great
Black olives instead of green or red - don't think I'd do that again - too salty
Added carrots - nice sweetness to offset the spice
If you don't have a tagine, this dish can easily be reproduced in a large skillet at low temperatures