Tagines are the ultimate prep it and forget it dishes. Traditionally, the meats and vegetables used in the Moroccan stews aren’t browned, but instead cook slowly over low moist heat, releasing their natural juices to create layers of flavor in the long slow cook. That means you can just pile the ingredients in and let the low fire do it’s work.
This tagine takes the simplicity of the lemon and olive tagine found elsewhere on this site and adds layers of sweet dark fruit for an entirely different flavor profile. Dried fruits contain abundant, wonderful, natural sugars that soften and meld in a slow cook with spices and aromatic vegetables and rich nuts to create something that is rich, sweet, spicy, and satisfying on either a cold winter’s day, or a hot summer night.
You can make this using any combination of dried fruits, but I’ve started out with dates, apricots, and sultanas (golden raisins) along with pistachios. You can use almonds instead of pistachios, regular raisins, currants, dried figs … nearly any traditional dried fruit. The recipe also calls for preserved lemon, something you can fine online or at most better groceries. Don’t be tempted to substitute fresh lemon – fresh lemon will have a much different and much more bitter flavor.
Good ras-el-hanout is also key to this dish. I get mine from the excellent North Market Spices, a local shop in the North Market that also sells online. Like a lot of dishes that originated in cultures other than my own, I don’t claim that this is an authentic representation of a Tagine. It’s my best attempt to reproduce flavors and techniques.
Chicken Thigh Tagine with Dried Fruit and NutsCourse: Bone-In, Mediterranean, Moroccan, StewDifficulty: Medium
4 skin-on bone-in chicken thighs
¼ cup Kalamata olives
¼ cup yellow raisins
¼ cup whole raw almonds or pistachios
8 dried apricots
4 dried dates
1 large onion
4 cloves garlic
1 1-inch piece of ginger
2 cups light chicken stock
1 preserved lemon
½ cup loosely packed cilantro
1 tbsp ras-el-hanout
1 tsp salt
1 tsp paprika
1 tbsp tomato paste
- Sprinkle chicken generously with salt, paprika, and ras-el-hanout. Set aside to marinate while preparing vegetables.
- Peel, trim, and slice the onion lengthwise.
- Peel and mince the garlic.
- Peel and mince the ginger.
- Slice the olives in half lengthwise.
- Remove the pulp from the preserved lemon, and slice the preserved lemon rind into thin strips. Halve the dried apricots.
- Remove stems from the cilantro, and finely chop the stems, reserving the leaves for garnish later.
- Add half the onions to the pan.
- Arrange the chicken in the pan on top of the onions.
- Evenly distribute the olives, dates, almonds, apricots, lemon strips, parsley and cilantro stems, raisins, garlic, ginger, and the remaining onions between the chicken pieces.
- Add chicken stock, pouring it only over the vegetables, not the chicken pieces.
- Bring the pan to a very low simmer and cook covered for 2 hours, or until the chicken is falling from the bone.
- Serve with freshly steamed couscous.