Monday, March 28, 2011

Chicken Tagine and Couscous

I was watching Jamie's travels and literally had to wipe the drool from my mouth. He went to Morocco and made the most delicious tagines. Chicken, lamb, name it he made it! I watched as he teased us, breaking the soft tender chicken between his fingers, scooping up the gravy with fresh pita... I was hungry and bothered. I hate watching any celebrity chef cook when I'm hungry- it's just excruciating. I couldn't take it, I marched to my freezer, defrosted a broiler chicken cut into eights and dreamt of tomorrow.

It's tomorrow and I've made an incredible Jamie inspired chicken tagine. It's subtle yet so flavourful. Tender onions, garlic and fennel have been cooked to a sweet pulp, theres the soft spice blend and the most juicy, insanely soft and succulent chicken...amazing!

1 whole chicken cut into eighths
1 quart chicken broth
1 or 2 zucchini's cut into coins
1 handful of cilantro stems plus 1/4 cup fresh cilantro for garnishing
2 cups butternut squash cut into cubes
2 large onions thinly sliced
1 fennel bulb cut into eight wedges
7 cloves garlic, smashed
1/2 cup green and black olives
a pinch of saffron
1 tablespoon cumin powder
1 tablespoon coriander powder
1 teaspoon ginger root powder
2 tablespoons ras el hanout (Moroccan spice blend)
Salt and pepper to your liking
1 can chickpeas
1 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon olive oil for chicken marinade + some for frying

Rub chicken with olive oil, salt, pepper, ras el hanout, cumin, coriander, 3 cloves garlic, 1/2 cup sliced onion and ginger powder. Let it sit for a couple hours or ideally overnight.

Preheat oven to 350.

Heat olive oil in a large dutch oven. Add the chicken pieces (you may need to do this in batches) and cook until lovely and golden brown. Remove the chicken and add the fennel, onion, four cloves of garlic. Let this cook for about 5 minutes, make sure to scrape all the bits off from the bottom of the pan. Add the chicken along with all it's juices and contents from marinating, cook for 10 minutes. Add the olives, coriander stems, saffron and chicken stock. Bring to a boil, cover and carefully place in the oven.

Let this cook for 1 hour. Remove and check how tender the chicken is. It should be close to falling apart or coming loose with your touch. Add the zucchini, chickpeas and squash. Cover and return to the oven. Cook for another 30 minutes. Remove the chicken, squash and zuchini once everything is tender and cooked. 
We want to reduce the sauce. If needed add more salt to heighten the flavours. Add some sugar if it tastes a bit bitter from the olives. Reduce until you get a thicker consistency. It won't ever get very thick but you just want the liquid to reduce and the flavours to become more prominent. 

Garnish with coriander and serve with couscous.

Couscous Ingredients: 
1.5 cups couscous
1.5 cups milk
1.5 cups cooking liquid from the tagine or chicken stock
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon butter

Bring the liquid, milk, butter and salt to a boil. Once the boil is rolling add the couscous, turn off the heat, stir it together and cover for ten minutes.  Fluff with a fork, transfer to a bowl and garnish with some coriander.

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