A tagine traditionally is a Morrocan slow cooking devive made up of a clay top and bottom and placed over coals for cooking. Much like cast iron, the tagine seasons and gets better with use. The conical lid or top helps keep in moisture and contributes to a wonderful tasting result.
Today, there are many modern tagines made out of various materials, including super glazed clay, metal, and ceramics. I like the traditional style clay tagine, handmade and unglazed. You have to make sure you season it before use. On the show Iron Chef, the couple of times I’ve seen tagines used, including by Bobby Flay, it was the same one that I have. I also have the traditional coal burner that the tagine sits on. Tagines can be used on a stove or oven, but doing it the traditional way is more fun and I’m convinced tastes better.
I ordered my tagine and coal base from Tagines by Riado and was quite pleased with their product and service.
Here is the recipe I made last night. It came out great and is based on a recipe from the book The Food of Morocco by Tess Mallos (editor Jane Lawson). This is a nice cookbook with much more than recipes and it has beautiful photos of the food and Moroccan scenes. It could also be a coffee table book. I made a few adjustments to the recipe.
Chicken Tagine with Apricots
This recipe uses skinned and deboned chicken breasts, but any parts, bone on or off, would work fine.
4 – skinned and denoned chicken breasts
1 1/2 oz butter
1 tsp – ground cinnamon
1 tsp – ground ginger
1/4 tsp – ground black pepper
1/8 tsp – cayenne pepper
1 – medium onion, sliced
1 cup – chicken stock
6- coriander (cilantro) sprigs tied together
1 lb – fresh apricots, halved OR 1 – 15 oz can apricot halves2 tbsp – honey
2 tbsp -toasted almond slivers
1. Get your coals going in the tagine coals base.
2. Trim chicken breasts of fat. Place tagine base on the coal holder. Place the butter in the tagine and allow to melt.
3. Add the spices and stir.
4. Add the chicken breasts and turn to coat with the spices and sear the chicken. Adjust coals to ensure you have sufficient heat,but be careful of burning the chicken. This is the tricky part about tagine cookery.
5. Add the onion and stir for a couple of minutes and turning the chicken.
6. Add the chicken stock and coriander. Cover the tagine and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring and turning every 5 minutes. Add stock if necessary (it shouldn’t be).
7. Add the apricots and drizzle in the honey, stir and cook for an additional 5 minutes covered.
5. Check the chicken for doneness, as soon as it is done, remove from heat. Chicken should be cooked, but moist.
6. Serve over couscous and a sprinkle of toasted almonds.