Exotically yours

Here’s more on the previously promised Moroccan Chicken Tagine, a slow cooked collection of assorted vegetables and chicken perfumed with exotic spices, citrus, and fresh herbs.  
If you are looking for an authentic touch, consider something like this Le Souk pottery tagine, courtesy of Amazon.com. The unique sloping top creates an oven of sorts and the slow cooking process encourages the retention of moisture, thus luxuriously bathing the tagine mixture and intensifying flavors. 
Turns out, the tagine is actually another one-pot-wonder, complete with vegetables and desired meat.  Natural accompaniments are an easy couscous and of course, the earlier mentioned hot and spicy harissa.
A tagine is perfect for entertaining since it is completely prepared in advance and benefits from slow unattended cooking – consider it the pre-cursor to contemporary crock pot cooking.  If the fabulous cookware is not available for a showy presentation, le creuset or any other heavy crockery will work just fine.   The recipe that follows uses standard stove top preparation. 
Chicken Tagine with Couscous
Inspired by Martha Rose Shulman’s Mediterranean Light cookbook
·         3 lb chicken, cut up and skinned
·         1 Tbsp olive oil
·         2 onions, sliced
·         4 cloves garlic minced or pressed
·         2 carrots, sliced
·         2 turnips, peeled and diced
·         2 stalks celery, sliced
·         1 tsp cumin
·         ½ tsp ginger
·         ½ tsp turmeric
·         1 bay leaf
·         3 cup chicken stock
·         1 tsp paprika
·         1 cup garbanzo beans
·         ¼ tsp saffron
·         2 small zucchini, sliced
·         4 Tbsp lemon juice
·         coarse salt, pepper and cayenne to taste
·         ¼ cup cilantro,  chopped
·         2 Tbsp parsley, chopped
·         ¾ lb couscous
·         2 cups chicken stock
Garnish:  cilantro, lemon slices, harissa (see index)
For tagine: heat oil in large casserole over medium heat and sauté onions and garlic until tender, 5-10 minutes.  Add carrots, turnips, and celery, sauté briefly.
Add chicken, cumin, ginger, turmeric, bay, stock and lightly salt.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer gently 45 minutes to 1 hour until chicken is tender; stir occasionally. 
Add paprika, garbanzos, saffron, zucchini and lemon juice; simmer 15 minutes until zucchini is tender but bright green.  Adjust seasoning with salt, pepper and cayenne. To finish, stir in parsley and cilantro.
For couscous:  Pour boiling stock over the couscous, cover and let stand 10 minutes until stock is absorbed.  Fluff with a fork. 
To serve, spoon couscous onto plates and ladle chicken, vegetables and some of the broth over the couscous.  Garnish with cilantro and lemon and pass the harissa.  Serves: 6-8

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