Monday, October 19, 2009

Chicken Tagine

Today we had no school, so I asked our maid, Fatima, to show me how to prepare a Tagine, which is a traditional Moroccan dish. Tagines are basically meaty dishes with a bit of vegetable or sweet. We've had beef tagine with green beans and olives, or chicken tagine with prunes and almonds. Once you make this tagine, you can make some of the other lovely combinations!

We started the morning by going to the market for ingredients. I watched as a man weighed a small, live chicken on a scale. He took it aside to be killed, defeathered, and boiled while we went to find other ingredients. I was amazed at the prices she was able to get for our food- only about $3 for the chicken, plus about $3 more for the rest of the ingredients.

We returned to start cooking. I'm attaching the recipe below, with pictures. Unfortunately, I didn't time the cooking, but I think if you keep following the recipe and checking to see if things are done, that it will turn out well. We used a clay tagine pot to prepare the tagine. If you don't have that, a dutch oven is a good second choice, a saucepan is a third choice. Below is a picture of our clay tagine.

Enjoy! And let me know if you decide to cook this!

Moroccan Chicken Tagine
As prepared by Fatima

1 large clay tagine
(A dutch oven will do)

1 small chicken
7 medium yellow onions or vidalia onions
1.5 cups of yellow raisins (Fatima says to use 10MAD worth)
1 small bunch parsley, tied in a knot
1 tomato, grated
4 pinches of saffron threads
salt and pepper to taste
"Ras el Hanout" spices to taste(optional)- see for more information
(if you don't want to make the Ras el Hanout recipe, look for Moroccan spice mixes)
paprika to taste
sugar to taste
cinnamon to taste

Slice the onions thinly. Keep one onion separate from the rest.

Cut up the chicken: spine to front breast, then cut about 6 pieces from each half

Soak the chicken in water, salt, and lemon juice for 5-10 minutes, then remove the skin and rinse the chicken.

Tagine mixture: Heat the tagine pot on high, adding the one onion that was set aside. Add oil (Fatima uses at least a couple tablespoons). Set the chicken pieces on top. Sprinkle salt, pepper, cinnamon, paprika, and couscous seasoning on top.

Allow to cook a few minutes on high, uncovered. After some time, bundle some parsley in the center.

Grate a tomato on top. Cover. After a few minutes, turn the chicken over. It should be simmering in juices; no need to add water.

In another saucepan, combine the 6 other onions with oil (again, about 2-3 Tablespoons), salt, pepper, cinnamon, paprika, and couscous seasoning. Cover and let cook. (Onions should get tender and should not burn to the pan. You will need to use enough oil.)

Soak 2 pinches of saffron in about 2-3 tablespoons of hot water. Pour this water over the tagine mixture. Soak the same saffron again in hot water, pour water over the tagine. (Fatima does not add the saffron threads to the tagine, just the water.)

After about 10-15 minutes, turn the tagine with chicken and onion to low temperature. Keep covered. By this time, the clay pot has absorbed much of the juices.

Add saffron water (2 pinches of saffron with hot water) to the onion mixture. Also add the raisins, sugar to taste, and cinnamon.

Pile the onion/raisin mixture on top of the tagine mixture (see first picture). Serve, and enjoy!


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