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Tagine of Chicken with Apricots & Mint



If you are a regular reader of my page you will remember that a few months back I went with a friend to a Moroccan restaurant for lunch one day and fell totally in love with Moroccan food  . . .  exotic North African food which is big on flavour, aroma and spice. 



A Tagine is a type of a Moroccan stew which has been named after the clay pot it is traditionally cooked in. Wide and round at the base with a lid that is tall and tapered at the top with a small circular opening which is designed to return  a lot of the condensation to the bottom of the dish, resulting in a stew which is rich, moist and luscious.  You can of course replicate this effect by adding a paper cartouche to an ordinary flame proof casserole dish with a lid.  


  

A cartouche is merely a circle of crumpled grease paper with a hole cut out of the centre.  It works just as beautifully.  Today I used my Le Creuset casserole dish with a cartouche.



Some of the flavours traditionally used in Moroccan food would be things like cinnamon, cumin, turmeric, ginger, coriander, saffron, mace, nutmeg, cloves, fennel, anise, cayenne, fenugreek, caraway, black pepper and sesame seed . . .  so think warm spices, sweet spices, fragrant spices  . . . 



Their food can also be characterised by the use of dried fruits and citrus, which when combined with meat, fish or poultry, and the warm fragrant spices makes for a wonderful combination . . . 



You will also find sauces which are frequently thickened by using ground nuts.  Wholesome and again  . . .  flavourful.



This dish today uses chicken thighs . . .  traditionally you would use bone in and skin on thighs, but all I had was the boneless, skinless ones, because we try to eat as lean as we can.  They worked fine.



Along with the chicken thighs . . .  I have used ground cumin, cinnamon, ginger and paprika . . .  along with salt and black pepper  . . .  very aromatic.


The sauce also contains finely chopped onion and ground almonds  . . .


Whole dried apricots provide a sweetness that goes very well with the chicken and other flavours  . . . 



I always buy the natural ones for the most part, which haven't been treated with sulphur  They are not as bright orange and jewel-like as the other ones, but they are filled with untainted flavour  . . .


Just use what you have  . . .  I am thinking a handful of prunes would also go very well.


A handful of chopped mint goes in along with the apricots . . .  adding a lovely flavour as well . . .  mint is a really under-used herb.  Its quite common to serve it with lamb, but it goes very well in this dish.


Our house smelled lovely while this was cooking . . . 



I served it with some cooked brown basmati rice, but couscous would be much more traditional.

Tagine of Chicken with Apricots & Mint


Yield: 4
Author:
A delicious Moroccan stew of chicken thighs and apricots.  You can either cook it in a heavy flame proof casserole dish or a clay tagine pot.

ingredients:

  • 3 1/2 TBS butter
  • 6 X free range or organic chicken thighs
  • 1 medium onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1/4 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tsp sweet paprika
  • freshly ground sea salt and black pepper to taste
  • 100g ground almonds (1 generous cup)
  • the juice and finely grated zest of one large orange
  • 600ml light chicken stock (2 1/2 cups)
  • 175g of soft dried apricots (I use the ones cured without sulphur, scant 1 cup)
  • 3 TBS chopped fresh mint, plus more to garnish

instructions:

How to cook Tagine of Chicken with Apricots & Mint

  1. Preheat the oven to 160*C/325*F/ gas mark 3.
  2. Melt the butter in the bottom of a large heavy casserole dish.  Add the chicken, 3 pieces at a time, and brown until golden brown all over, removing to a plate as you go along, and repeating until all the chicken has been browned.  Add the onions to the drippings, along with the spices, and cook, stirring, until the onions have begun to soften and the whole mixture is very fragrant.  Stir in the ground almonds, orange zest and orange juice.  Nestle in the browned chicken thighs and pour the stock over all, giving it a good stir.
  3. Cover with a cartouche.  A cartouche is a circle of crumpled baking paper with a hole cut from the centre.  Cover with the lid of the casserole dish and place into the preheated oven.  Roast for half an hour.
  4. Remove from the oven.  Discard the cartouche.  Stir in the dried apricots and the chopped mint.  Return to the oven and roast for a further 20 minutes, uncovered.  at this point the meat should be tender and falling from the bones.  The apricots should be lovely and plump and the sauce thickened.
  5. Taste and adjust seasoning as required. Sprinkle with a bit more mint and serve.  Couscous or rice go very well with this.
Created using The Recipes Generator



If you are a family that usually opts for a Chinese or an Indian meal on Saturday nights, I challenge you to try Moroccan for a change!  I think you will be pleasantly surprised! A flat bread would be nice with this to help sop up all of that delicious gravy! 







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Marie Rayner
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4 comments:

  1. Looks good! My friend nancy introduced me to Moroccan food..Have a lovely book from yrs ago..The Flavors Of Morocco..should make som again:) I go on tangents;)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I go on tangents too. I really love the flavours of Morocco! Although oddly enough its never been a place I have wanted to travel! xoxo

      Delete
  2. Dried apricots are so delicious in spiced food. I remember Moroccan food from when I went there (my very first flight - upgraded to first class, such a thrill) forty seven years ago, there was a lot of spaghetti served in out hotel too. My favourite egg dish was Brik.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ohh, I have never heard of Brik. I am going to have to look that one up! I think fruit goes very well with lamb, pork, or chicken! The jury is still out on beef! I suppose it depends on the fruit! xoxo

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