The crocuses have poked up but are not yet blooming, and the daffodils and tulips are start to thrust skyward. I’m chomping at the bit to get out in the garden but with snow still flying, there is still time for comfort food.
A tajine (tagine) refers to both the cooking vessel as well as well as the meal prepared in it. This dish is based on a Moroccan tajine in which meat is slowly braised with aromatic spices. I took a few liberties with this and it was darn tasty. I used chicken thighs as they have more flavor than breast and the flesh will stand up to longer cooking. The flavors of cinnamon and cumin give a smoky undertone and the red pepper provides a high note. This dish is complex, sweet, smokey, with a little heat.
Prep + cook time about 2 hours
2 Lbs boneless skinless chicken thigh – 1” dice, fat removed
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
½ medium onion, grated – about ½ cup
4 cloves garlic minced
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
½ teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
¼ cup apricot preserves (might also be interesting to use orange marmalade, or perhaps peach?)
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
1 15 oz can chickpeas drained and rinsed
2 cups chicken stock
¼ cup raisins
½ cup dried apricots quartered
¼ cup chopped cilantro or parsley
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
2 Tablespoons corn starch (optional)
In a Dutch oven or other large heavy pot, melt the butter over medium low heat.
Add chicken, onion garlic, black and red pepper, salt, cinnamon, cumin, coriander, preserves and vinegar.
Cook, stirring often until spice mixture is very fragrant. The goal is not to brown the meat.
Add chickpeas and chicken stock, bring to a low boil then reduce heat to simmer and cover.
Cook for about an hour.
Add raisins and diced apricots.
At this point you could add a slurry of cornstarch to tighten up the sauce a little.
When raisins plump up, turn off heat, add lemon juice and cilantro.