Sunday, October 14, 2012
One of my favorite restaurants back in Richmond served, among other incredible things, the most delicious Moroccan tagine. I'd always hoped to find a recipe that allowed me to replicate it at home. Or at least come close. And here it is. In the eloquent words of Wikepedia, tagines are "slow-cooked stews braised at low temperatures, resulting in tender meat with aromatic vegetables and sauce". They are actually named after the pot in which they are traditionally cooked, which is this cute little triangular dish with a chimney. While you are welcome to go out and pick yourself up a tagine, it won't be necessary. This recipe uses the slow-cooker to achieve the same result- with little time or fuss.
While I find this recipe to be near perfect as is, it would be easily amenable to changes. Throw in a few extra vegetables such as cauliflower, sweet potatoes, or squash. (I would wait and add softer ones partway through cooking so they don't turn to mush.) Or try it with pork or lamb. And in case you're wondering, ras el hanout is simply a Moroccan spice blend. It can be found at some upscale groceries (try Whole Foods), online, or you can make it yourself (links below).
Slow-cooker Moroccan Chicken, Chickpea, and Apricot Tagine
2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
2 large onions, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 inch fresh ginger root, peeled and grated
1 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp. tomato paste
2 Tbsp. honey
4 tsp. ras el hanout (available here, or try this recipe)
1 tsp. turmeric (or a pinch of saffron)
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground coriander
up to 1 tsp. cayenne pepper (I only used ~1/4 tsp.)
1 cup low-sodium chicken stock
2 cans diced tomatoes (I used fire-roasted crushed tomatoes)
2 cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
6 oz. dried apricots, diced (or you can leave them whole, but I prefer the texture of them diced)
3 lbs. boneless skinless chicken thighs
4 carrots, peeled and chopped
1 preserved lemon, cut into wedges (optional, I omitted)
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
fresh cilantro, chopped for serving
cous cous or rice, for serving
1. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and saute until softened. Add the garlic and ginger and cook for 1 minute. Stir in the flour, tomato paste, honey, and spices and cook for another minute. Add the chicken stock and tomatoes and cook for several minutes, making sure to get out any lumps of flour. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
2. Combine the tomato/spice mixture with the chickpeas, apricots, chicken thighs, carrots, and lemon (if using) in a large slower cooker, mixing well. Cover and cook on high for 3-4 hours, or until the meat shreds easily with a fork. Serve over cous cous or rice, topped with fresh cilantro.
(Adapted from Food.com)