and also large bunches of parsley and cilantro.
This is a recipe from North African Cooking by Hilaire Walden. It's not the one I mentioned on Saturday, but this one uses more parsley and cilantro than that one plus some other interesting flavors so I thought I'd give it a try. I've modified it a bit and probably screwed it up since I couldn't get the right sorts of olives or preserved lemons. Well, that's the way of things; I'll just have to hope for the best.
2-3 Tablespoons olive oil
1 red onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves
3/4 teaspoons ground ginger
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 large pinch saffron threads, crushed
salt and pepper
1 chicken weighing about 3 1/2 pounds (Mine was a bit bigger so I was generous on all the spices and used a large onion.)
3 cups chicken broth or water
1/2 cup greeny-brown Moroccan olives, rinsed or kalamata olives, roughly chopped
1 large bunch of cilantro, finely chopped (I used about half my share. There's large and then there's large.)
1 large bunch of parsley, finely chopped
1 preserved lemon in salt (The lemons I found were pickled, but so are the olives so I figure I'm probably OK. They were also kind of small so I used two.), chopped
0. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
1. Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a dutch oven just big enough to fit the chicken. Add onions and fry until golden brown.
2. Meanwhile, crush garlic in a mortar with a pinch of salt. Work in the ginger, cinnamon, saffron and a bit of pepper. Add to onions and cook until fragrant. Remove to a bowl.
3. Let the spice mix cool a bit and then mash it up into a smoother paste.
Or just run it through the food processor. Spread it all over the chicken including in the body cavity.
4. Put chicken in the dutch oven (which you're glad you used because you didn't lose all the flavor from the spice mix you couldn't entirely scrape out) and add broth. Bring to a simmer and cover.
The original recipe goes on to simmer on the stovetop for 1 1/4 hours, but instead I put it into the oven for omni-directional heat. 350 works for stews but wanted to keep the sauce simmering here so I want a little higher temperature. Technically that means this is a braise not a tagine, I think. The recipe called for flipping the chicken a few times which still seemed like a good idea so I went ahead and did that.
I'm not sure about the timing since I started at 350, changed my mind, tried 375 and then 400. I just cooked until my probe thermometer got a reading of 165 degrees. I've been having trouble getting reliable readings so the chicken ended up a bit overcooked, but the sauce kept it from drying out so it wasn't a disaster.
5. When the thermometer reaches 160 degrees add the chopped olives, lemon, cilantro and parsley, turn the oven down to 350 degrees and cook for 15 minutes more.
6. When the chicken is done, remove it to a cutting board to cool and put the sauce on the stove to cook down if it looks like it needs it. Taste the sauce and adjust the seasoning now. When the chicken is cool enough to work with, portion it out and serve with the sauce. If you can figure how to skim the chicken fat from the sauce, you probably should.
I also had a side dish: Fried peppers with capers and garlic
2 Tablespoons olive oil
3/4 pound red peppers, cut into strips
2 garlic cloves, sliced
1/2 Tablespoon salt-packed capers (don't substitute the pickled capers; the flavors are quite different)
1 Tablespoon white wine vinegar (go ahead and substitute plain white vinegar)
salt and pepper
1. Heat the oil on high heat in a cast iron pan until nearly smoking. Add the peppers. Fry, stirring frequently but not constantly, until they've charred around the edges.
2. Add the capers and garlic. Cook until they sizzle and the garlic starts to brown.
3. Stir in the vinegar which will evaporate too fast to do any real damage to the seasoning on your cast iron pan. Still, you'll want to clean the pan promptly after dinner.
4. Serve hot as a side dish or cold as a salad.
And I made couscous too.
I'm fairly happy with how the tagine turned out. There's a lot of good flavor in the sauce, but you can tell the right olives and lemon would match with the herbs and spices a bit better. As usual when I neglect to brine the chicken is flavorful on the outside but the actual meat is kind of bland. Even this free-range, organic blah-blah-blah chicken doesn't have a whole lot of flavor. Not compared to olives and preserved lemons, anyway. I suppose the overcooking was no help here either. But still, not bad and the sauce is quite nice with the couscous.
The peppers are sweet, salty and tangy. Very different from the chicken and a nice accompaniment. The recipe doesn't actually specify sweet bell peppers so I wonder how it would be using a pepper with a little heat.
Now I could really go for some baclava for dessert.