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Easy Moroccan dish - too bad brown food doesn't photograph well. Using: preserved lemons, Harissa, turmeric, cinnamon and other spices.

Easy Moroccan dish. Using: preserved lemons, Harissa, turmeric, cinnamon and other spices.

So I made these preserved lemons MONTHS ago and just got off my lazy butt to make something with them. Admitted, I was a little afraid of giving my husband and myself botulism or something crazy, but we seem to be alright a few hours later (knock on wood).  Anyway, today I used them in my first-ever tagine and it turned out FAMOUSLY!

What’s a tagine? Well, it takes it’s name from the vessel in which it is cooked (uh, the tagine). Alas, I do not have one. So what. Instead, I used my handy Le Creuset (best gift ever – thanks mom!).  Anyway, the dish is North African in origin and it’s got a lot of spices, dried fruit and meat braised to perfection.

I’ve gotta say, WHY do I not make more Moroccan food? Jeez…so unbelievably tasty and pretty dang healthy too. I cannot even tell you how good our house smelled while it was cooking. Divine!

For the most part, this recipe came out of David Lebovitz’ Sweet Life in Paris book (a lot of fun if you haven’t read it yet).  I added a few ideas gleaned from Closet Cooking’s blog (seriously, this guy makes some fabulous food – I don’t know how he does it day after day!), a touch of my own (really, what I had on-hand) and voila! My first tagine! AND it was easy.

What I did differently than Lebovitz recipe: I added the aforementioned preserved lemons (half a lemon – just the rind, rinsed and chopped into strips cause I was too NERVOUS to add any more), I used Pimente d’Espelette instead of Paprika (cause I only have hot and smoked Paprika) and added a teaspoon of Harissa at the end.

What I would do differently in the future: I would probably do skinless chicken. All the wonderful spices were adhered to the flabby, braised chicken skin. Boo.

Preserved lemons verdict: I took them out of the jar and gave them a rinse under cold water. Most of the pulp fell off when I did this. Some people say to use just the rind anyway, so I let the pulp go down the drain. I sliced up the rind and gave it a taste. Very, very salty. They were ok in the finished tagine, but I’m not totally converted. Meh… But if you really want to know how to make preserved lemons, go here.

Chicken, Apricot and Almond Tagine

Ingredients:

  • 1 (3-lb) chicken, cut into 6 pieces, wings and backbone discarded (alright, I just used split breasts here)
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 large onion chopped
  • 2 teaspoons paprika (I used Piment d’Espelette cause shoot, I have it!)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/4 teaspoon saffron threads (left this out cause 1. I don’t like saffron and 2. I don’t have any anyway)
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro (my cilantro plant is mostly dead so…didn’t get anywhere near 1/3 cup – which I think is maybe too much anyway? Anyway, use your own discretion).
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 4 oz dried  apricots, separated into halves (you could use prunes, figs, dates, whatever you’ve got)
  • 1/2 preserved lemon (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon Harissa (optional)
  • 3/4 cup whole blanched almonds

Steps:
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

2. In a large bowl, toss the chicken pieces with the ginger, turmeric, paprika, saffron, cinnamon, salt and pepper

3. Melt the butter in a large Dutch oven (or other ovenproof vessel). Saute the onions over medium heat – about 5 minutes or till translucent.

4. Add the chicken and cook for 3 minutes, turning the pieces once.

5. Add in the chicken stock and cilantro. Cover and stick in the oven for 45 minutes.

6. Remove from oven. Place chicken pieces on a platter and cover with foil. Set aside.

7. Add honey, lemon juice, dried apricots, preserved lemons and Harissa (if using) to the pot and bring to a simmer. Reduce by half.

8. Add almonds to pot and return chicken to pot to coat in sauce.

9. Serve chicken and spoon sauce over top.

Enjoy!

Ms. Pantry Raid

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