We got a tagine for our wedding a little over two years ago, but had yet to use it. Surprisingly, it can be tough to find recipes that require (or at least have instructions for) the actual piece of equipment. I discovered this one and decided to give it a try when I was making dinner for my parents this weekend.
Still, some adaptations were required. My tagine didn’t come with a lot of instructions, beyond soaking it for 13 hours (even then it was unclear whether I had to soak the whole thing or just the bottom), but if you do a little online research, you not only have to soak, but have to bake on low heat in an oven for a couple hours, then cool it, before first use. I also discovered that tagines shouldn’t be cooked over high heat to avoid cracking (if you have a heat diffuser this can be avoided, but I don’t), so the recipe required a little adjustment on those accounts. But I got everything seasoned in time for a Friday night meal, and this tasted delicious when executed.
3 pounds chicken pieces (I used breasts and drumsticks. I recommend dark meat though, as I thought the breasts turned out slightly dry)
1 onion, diced
2 carrots, peeled and diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1-inch piece ginger root, peeled and minced
1 teaspoon coriander
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup chicken stock
1 cup dried couscous
1/2 cup dried apricots, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon honey
1/4 cup almonds, roughly chopped
2 cups (1 15-oz can) chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 tablespoons cilantro, optional, for serving
Warm one tablespoon of oil in a pan – I used a skillet because I wanted to brown over high heat. Sprinkle the chicken pieces with salt and pepper, and place as many as will fit into the pan without crowding. Sear for 5 to 8 minutes, flipping once, until both sides are golden brown. Remove to a clean plate and continue searing the rest of the chicken pieces. Set aside.
Pour off all but a teaspoon of oil and return the pan to medium heat. Sauté the onions and carrots with a half teaspoon of salt until softened and beginning to brown, about 10 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Sprinkle the ginger and spices over top and cook until fragrant, another minute.
Put ingredients into a tagine. Stir the chicken stock and apricots into the tagine. Nestle the chicken pieces into the pan; try to fit them in a single layer, but it’s ok if some pieces overlap.
Bring the liquid to a boil (you can do this without turning up the heat to high), then reduce the heat to low. Cover the pan and cook for 50-60 minutes. The tagine is ready when the chicken registers 165° on an instant-read thermometer in the thickest part of the meat and when its juices run clear.
While the chicken is cooking, prepare the couscous and set aside.
Transfer the cooked chicken to a clean plate and tent with foil. Add the honey, almonds, and chickpeas to the pan with the apricots and onions, and increase the heat to medium-high. Bring the stew to a rapid simmer and cook until it has thickened slightly. Taste the sauce and add salt if necessary.
To serve, spread the cooked couscous on a serving platter and arrange the chicken pieces on top. Ladle the stew over top, making sure the chicken pieces each get a good coating. Sprinkle with cilantro and serve.
Leftover chicken tagine will keep refrigerated for up to a week.