Tagine Cooking

One of my favorite gifts that Eliza and I got for Christmas this year was a Moroccan tagine.  The word tagine actually refers to both the cookware (which is what we got) and the dishes made within it (typically slow cooked stews with a wide variety of ingredients).  The cookware, is basically a ceramic dish base with a conical ceramic lid.  The idea, from what I gather, is that moisture condenses at the top of the cone and then trickles back down the side, creating very tender food infused with a lot of flavor.

Last night I finally put the tagine to use.  I thawed some chicken drumsticks earlier in the day to be the central component of the tagine.  To start off I seared each drumstick all over in a skillet.  Once they were nice and crisped I removed them and placed them in the tagine.  I deglazed the skillet with a splash of red wine and threw in some chopped onions to pull up the flavor.  While the onions were sauteing I chopped up some celery, carrots, cherry tomatoes, and cilantro and then added them all to the tagine with the chicken.  When the onions were nice and slightly caramelized I added them to the tagine as well.  I also added a can of chickpeas.  Moroccan cuisine is known for its bold and complex spices so in my spice grinder I ground whole seed cumin, whole seed coriander, whole seed fenugreek, mustard seed, cardamom, turmeric, black pepper, red pepper flakes, allspice, cinnamon, garlic powder, and sea salt.  I mixed half of this spice mixture with about 2/3rds cup of water, one squeezed lemons juice, and one squeezed clementines juice.  I poured all of this over the vegetables and chicken, making sure that everything was well covered.  I also sprinkled the remaining dry spice mix over the top.  I then covered the tagine with its lid and put it into the oven at 375°.

I planned on cooking the tagine for an hour, so while it was in the oven I made some couscous to serve the stew on.  In a saucepan I melted some butter and then threw in some chopped garlic, chopped almonds, and pine nuts.  I cooked them for a few minutes at medium low heat, and then removed them.  I added about a cup and a half off water and brought it to a boil.  Once it was at a steady rolling boil I poured in a  cup and a half of dry couscous and stirred in the nuts and garlic.  I removed it all from the heat and covered it and let it sit.   About 15 minutes later I gave it a quick fluffing.

After an hour of cooking the tagine was perfectly ready.  The chicken was tender and flavorful and the vegetables retained a slight crisp and a strongly infused spice flavor.  The liquid in the base made a wonderful and aromatic sauce to pour over the couscous.  All and all I would call this meal a huge success and I definitely look forward to cooking more dishes in the tagine.  Next time I’d like to do some lamb.

~ by Nathaniel on January 9, 2012.

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