A certain mystique still surrounds the Tagine, its magical charm continues to enchant the foodies of the world. What was once concentrated in certain corners of the world is now flowing freely everywhere. It is being promoted, its mystery being unveiled by many top chefs. It is being adapted in fusion cuisine and the presence of tagines are being felt very strongly in the culinary world. An elegant way of presenting your food, a healthy way of cooking it, simplicity and glamour all rolled into one.
1 kg/ 2.2 lb chicken pieces, bone -in that are patted dry.
Dry Spice Mix
1 stick of cinnamon
10 to 12 cloves
10 to 12 black peppercorns
2 long dry red chillies
½ tsp saffron, dry roasted
¼ tsp brown sugar
2 +1 tbsp brown butter -smen
4 thinly sliced garlic cloves
1 small fresh piece of ginger smashed
1 tbsp honey
1 dry bay leaf
1/2 cup fresh herbs coriander and parsley work best.
57 g/ 2 oz olive oil
1 cup of chicken broth
1 finely chopped fried onion
A preserved lemon
125 g/ 4 oz fresh green olives
Dry roast in a pan the dry spice mix - grind until fine and then add the dry roasted saffron, salt and brown sugar.
Prepare the Marinade
In a bowl make a paste with ground spices adding the brown butter -smen, garlic, ginger and honey .
Apply the marinade liberally to the chicken pieces and leave to marinate for a minimum of 30 minutes and up to 24 hours.
In a skillet heat more smen brown butter, and a little olive oil. Fry the chicken pieces; (try to keep the marinade in the bowl until later as it burns easily).
Add the left over marinade, plus a bay leaf and the finely chopped herbs, The chicken broth, fried onion, the preserved lemon and the fresh green olives. Cover and cook for 30 minutes until cooked through. Transfer to the tagine ready to reheat and serve.
Sprinkle with additional coriander and parsley.
You can cook the chicken in the Tagine in your oven covered for the last 30 to 45 minutes on a 350F/180C oven instead of the stove top after it has been browned.
Saffron is generally crushed and placed in a little warm water to blossom before adding. Alternatively you can dry roast it - be extra careful as it will burn easily.
While its wonderful to be generous, excessive saffron can bring a bitterness to the food. Store saffron in the refrigerator.
Smen is a very important part of the flavour. Preparing smen; melt a stick of butter over the stove on a low simmer for 30 minutes. The butter will separate and there will be brown residue. Pour into a glass bowl or measuring cup and use as needed. This will keep well in the refrigerator. Use the remainder in your soups, rice and other cooked foods.
Lemon pickle is available in larger supermarkets in the deli section. It can be a whole lemon or just pieces. If you wish to make it yourself it is best to pick the smallest lemons available. For best results buy the lemon with thin skin. Add 1 tsp of salt to the bottle, tightly seal and leave it to cook in the sun. Shake it daily. This will take a week. Refrigerate and use as needed. If you do not have access to it, used the zest of a lemon for flavour.
From Niloufer's Kitchen: Moroccan Cuisine