Spicy Chicken Tagine with Apricots and Preserved Lemons

Tagine is a class dish from north Africa.  It is a stew that cooks slowly, usually in a vessel called a tagine.  It is an earthenware pot with a conical lid designed to lock in moisture and flavors.  When I was in Morocco, we cooked with a clay tagine that required a diffuser on top of the stove to prevent foods from scorching.  I have 2 modern tangines that have a cast iron base and don’t require a diffuser.  They tend to be expensive, but if you plan to make tagine often, and want to make a beautiful presentation, it is worth the investment. 

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Chicken Marinade (Serves 8):

1 onion, minced

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 tsp. fresh ginger, minced

1/4 cup olive oil

2 tsp. salt 1 tsp. dried thyme

8 chicken thighs, (boneless, skin on)

Stew:

2 tbsp. butter

1 onion, chopped

1 tbsp. fresh rosemary, chopped

1 tbsp. fresh ginger, chopped

2 green chiles, minced (serrano or jalapeño)

2 cinnamon sticks

1 cup dried apricots

2 tbsp. honey

1 cup tomatoes, diced

2 preserved lemons, sliced thinly

salt and black pepper

 1/3 cup basil leaves, torn

Method: In a bowl, combine the marinade ingredients and add chicken thighs. Stir to coat the chicken.  Cover and refrigerate 1-2 hours.  Meanwhile, heat the butter in a tagine or heavy Dutch oven pan.  Sauté onions until soft, then add rosemary, ginger, green chiles, and cinnamon sticks.  Remove chicken from marinade, and pat dry with paper towels.  Add to pan and brown on both sides.  Toss in the apricots, honey, tomatoes, lemon, 2 teaspoons of salt, and a few grinds of black pepper.  Add enough water to cover the bottom of the tagine (or pan).  Bring liquid to a boil, then reduce heat and cover.  Cook gently for 40 minutes.  Taste to see if more salt and pepper is needed, then top with torn basil leaves.  Serve with couscous, if desired.

MainsSavanna Givens