Tagine is the name for a type of earthenware vessel as well as the stew-like dishes that are cooked in it. They are popular throughout North Africa and differ among locales. This one is my own invention, but the addition of harissa gives it a Tunisian spin. I love the juxtaposition of hot and sweet flavors. It is easy enough to make for a weeknight meal, but with a tiny bit of dressing up, it is also perfect for guests (see Tips, below).
Makes 6 servings
2 tbsp (30 mL) olive oil
3 lbs (1.5 kg) bone-in skin-on chicken pieces, cut into serving-size pieces (breasts and large thighs halved)
2 onions, thinly sliced on the vertical
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp (15 mL) minced ginger-root
½ tsp (2 mL) sea salt
½ tsp (2 mL) cracked black peppercorns
2 bay leaves
1 piece (2 inches/5 cm long) cinnamon stick
1 cup (250 mL) chicken stock
1-2 tbsp (15 to 30 mL) harissa paste
1 tbsp (15 mL) liquid honey
12 dried apricots, halved
¼ cup (60 mL) finely chopped fresh cilantro
¼ cup (60 mL) toasted pine nuts
1. In Dutch oven, heat oil over medium heat. Add chicken, skin side down, in batches if necessary, and lightly brown on both sides, about 3 minutes per batch. Transfer to a plate as completed and set aside.
2. Add onions to pan and cook, stirring, until softened, about 3 minutes. Add garlic, ginger, salt, peppercorns, bay leaves and cinnamon stick and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Stir in stock, harissa to taste, and honey until blended.
3. Add apricots and chicken to sauce and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat and simmer until juices run clear when chicken is pierced (see Tips, left), about 30 minutes. Discard bay leaves.
4. Garnish with cilantro and pine nuts and serve immediately.
≫ To make this tagine gluten-free, be sure to check the label on your harissa paste. Some contain wheat ingredients as fillers.
≫ For an impressive presentation, arrange cooked couscous, millet or even New‑World quinoa in a ring around the edge of a deep serving platter and fill the center with the chicken mixture. Then garnish with the cilantro and pine nuts.
≫ Using an instant-read thermometer is the surest way to determine when your chicken is cooked. Inserted in the thickest part of the thigh, it should register 165°F (74°C ).
≫ If you prefer a more concentrated sauce, transfer the finished chicken to a platter and keep warm. Boil the cooking liquid over high heat until reduced, about 4 minutes. Return chicken to sauce before serving.
Courtesy of The Chile Pepper Bible by Judith Finlayson © 2016 www.robertrose.ca Reprinted with publisher permission. Available where books are sold.
This original recipe article first appeared in the Spring 2017 issue of City Style and Living Magazine.