ChatterRecipe of the Month June 2012

Chicken Tagine with Carrots, Olives & Preserved Lemons

Chicken Tagine © Matthew Klein

For this month’s recipe, I wanted to touch on something that was both“salty & sweet” to reflect Gemini’s dual nature and one that included ingredients a Gemini might enjoy, such as Carrots, for example! So I decided to travel to Africa and bring you a Chicken Tagine recipe from Morocco. The word Tagine (or Tajine) is not only the name of the dish, but also refers to the traditional clay pot that it is cooked in. Now, if you don’t have a Tagine worry not, because you can also prepare this recipe in a deep, heavy-bottomed Casserole Dish with a lid, or even in a Pressure Cooker, which will cut the cooking time in half. There are many variations with these Tagine recipes, so feel free to substitute the protein with other traditional meats such as BeefGoat or Lamb(which require a longer cooking time) or you can go all vegetarian and substitute the protein with Chickpeas and additional Root Vegetables(which will reduce the cooking time.) Some Tagine recipes also include dried fruits, such as Dates or Apricots, which add another layer of sweetness besides the Carrots and provide a nice contrast to the saltiness of the Olives and Preserved Lemons. And here’s an easy Preserved Lemonrecipe:

Whole Chicken (cut into 8 portions) or 8 Chicken Thighs (approx. 1½ lbs)
1 large Onion (peeled & diced)
3 cloves Garlic (finely chopped or minced)
Carrots (peeled, cut in half lengthways & cored)
¼ cup Cilantro (finely chopped) and/or ¼ cup Parsley (finely chopped)
½ cup Green (or RedOlives
Preserved Lemon (cut into quarters & seeds removed)
1/3 cup Olive Oil
1 teaspoon Butter
1 teaspoon Salt (or to taste)
½ teaspoon Black Pepper
1 teaspoon Turmeric
1½ teaspoons Ground Ginger
¼ teaspoon Cinnamon
Cayenne Pepper (to taste & optional)
Dried Fruits (optional)

Conventional Pot Method: Mix the Meat with the OnionGarlicCilantro and/or Parsley, SeasoningsSpices, and the Olive Oil in a large Dutch Oven or deep Casserole Dish. Brown the Meat(uncovered) for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add 3 cups Water, cover and then simmer the Meat for about 1 hour if using Chicken or Beef, and at least 1½ hours if using Lamb or Goat. Check the level of the Broth from time to time and add more Water if necessary during the cooking. You don’t want it to dry out. Next add in the Carrots on top of the Meat with enough Water so that the Brothalmost reaches the top of the Carrots. Cover again and simmer for about 20 minutes until the Carrots are tender. Then add in the Olives,Preserved Lemon and teaspoon of Butter. Leave the cover off and continue simmering until the sauce has reduced to a nice thickness. This Tagine recipe can be served with Couscous or Bread for dipping.

Clay or Ceramic Tagine Method: Slice the Onion instead of chopping it, tie the Parsley and/or Cilantro into a bouquet instead of chopping it, and omit the Butter. Pour about half of the Olive Oil into the base of the Tagine, place the Onions over the bottom and then layer the Carrots on top. In a bowl, mix together the MeatGarlicSeasonings and Spices. Place the Meat in the middle of the Tagine (bone or fatty sides down) on top of the Onionsand Carrots. Swirl a cup of Water in the bowl to rinse the Spices and add this Water with the remaining Olive Oil to the Tagine. Top the Meat with the Parsley bouquet and then distribute the Preserved Lemon wedges and Olives on top of the Meat and Carrots. Cover the Tagine and place on a diffuser over medium-low to medium heat and allow the Tagine to reach a simmer. This can take some time, so be patient, and once a simmer is achieved, reduce the heat to the lowest temperature necessary to maintain that simmer, and cook for about 3 to 4 hours, or until the Meat and Carrots are very tender.

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