Moroccan Chicken Tagine is a classic North African dish similar to a stew. Tagine is also the name of the clay vessel where the dish is cooked. The cooking vessel is a shallow glazed clay dish with a removable cone shaped lid with a short vertical cylinder at the top that allows the stew to vent. It is likely that the use of ceramics was introduced to North Africa by the Romans who had established a military presence as far back as 146 B.C.
Moroccan Chicken Tagine is a highly versatile dish ; you can use meat (normally lamb), chicken or even vegetables or fish. The method of preparation and cooking time will vary accordingly. The slow cooking process infuses the meat or vegetables with rich incredible flavors that burst out as soon as you take a bite. According to my Moroccan friend, the spices vary from region to region, mostly due to local taste and customs.
My Moroccan friend also explained to me in detail how in some cases fruit such as lemons(prepared in a special way) and apricots can also be part of a tagine. He did tell me however, that apricots are found most likely in a beef or lamb tagine.
If you do not own a tagine dish, don’t worry; you can certainly make this in a deep skillet or a crock pot and then serve it in a bowl. I am fortunate enough to have one of these beautiful cooking devices, courtesy of my mother in law. Mine came from Williams Sonoma, but other kitchen stores like Sur La Table and Amazon also carry it. If you buy one, I recommend you purchase one with with a design since it will serve the double function of a decoration piece in your kitchen. If you have a gas stove, you also need to be sure to use the tagine heat difuser and not set it directly on the flame.
A Moroccan Tagine is certainly a nice addition to any recipe collection. It is exotic enough to bring an element of interest to your next family dinner or dinner party; and simple enough as to not intimidate the finicky guest.
So, next time you host a dinner party and your friends ask “What’s for dinner” You can confidently reply ” Moroccan Tagine, of course!”
One note on the photo above: This picture was taken just before I added the thinly sliced potatoes to give you an idea on the color of the dish when fully cooked. You can then just add the potatoes in layers all around the dish, replace the lid and cook until tender. (Did you really want to see a picture of a bunch of potatoes covering the colorful food?)
A tagine makes a beautiful addition to your kitchen for cooking and for a display piece too!
Here are some of my favorites:
- 1 medium onion chopped into small pieces
- 1 cup of water
- 2 garlic cloves minced
- 2 diced Roma tomato
- ¼ cup of peas
- 3 sliced carrots
- 2 Tb. olive oil
- 1 tsp. curry
- 1 tsp. chili powder
- 1 Tb. fresh parsley chopped
- 1 tsp. salt (paleo diet: sea salt)
- 1 whole chicken cut into pieces. Remove the skin and discard the wings
- 2 potatoes peeled and thinly sliced (paleo diet: sweet potatoes)
- Place the sliced potatoes in water to avoid browning while you cook the tagine.
- On the bottom of the tagine dish place the onions, carrots, tomatoes, and garlic.Place chicken pieces on top and season with the spices. Sprinkle with the chopped parsley. Pour over the olive oil.Add roughly 1 cup of water.
- Cover and cook over medium heat for about 1 hour. Check for doneness. The chicken should be tender.
- Drain potatoes and add them to the top of the tagine forming a circle. Cover and continue to cook for another 20 minutes until the potatoes are soft. Add the peas and cook for an additional 5 minutes uncovered.
- Serve with couscous* or rice.
- I usually purchase the boxed couscous(gasp) from the ethnic section of my grocery store.
- As a side note, this recipe can be easily adapted to be made in a crock pot. Cook until the chicken is fork tender.