Sunday, January 12, 2014

Moroccan Chicken, Honey, and Date Tagine

I recently got into Moroccan food. The flavors are really amazing and unusual--cinnamon, honey, dates, raisins, nuts, preserved lemons--and all of  these with savory dinners! The flavors are powerful and rich. Besides these yummy benefits, Moroccan dishes are essentially all "one dish" meals!! Everything is  thrown into a traditional tagine (see below) which is basically a clay pot with a cone-like lid that has a small hole in the tip. Apparently the shape aids in the cooking process by allowing just the  right amount of steam to heat the contents. TRADITIONALLY, this would be cooked over a fire or in a special oven, but since we are in America, it's all right if we cook like Americans--and use our stove.

 This recipe will totally work in a normal, high-sided pan, as this is cooked on the stove-top. You just won't feel as cultured....

1 1-inch piece of  ginger peeled and chopped
2-3 cloves of garlic
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 tbsp.  butter
2 cinnamon sticks
5 boneless chicken thighs
2-3 tbsp. honey
1 cup of moist whole dates--cut out the pits
2 tbsp. sliced almonds

In a pestle and mortar (or in a food processor if you don't have one), mash up the ginger and garlic. Heat up a deep-sided pan or tagine (make sure it's stove-top usable!) on medium heat and add in your butter and oil.

Once  bubbly, add in your  garlic and ginger paste and the cinnamon sticks. Once the mixture begins to color and smell really scrumptious, add in your chicken thighs skin-side down. Stir in the honey and tuck the dates all around the meat.

Add enough water to cover the base of the pan/tagine and come up about a quarter inch up the side of the chicken (if your pan is stuffed full, then add water about 1 inch up the side, if your pan still has some space, then just add the 1/4 inch).

Bring the water to a boil, reduce the heat to low, sprinkle over the almonds, and cover with a lid. Simmer gently for about 25 minutes.

Taste the sauce, and add about a 1/2 tsp of salt and of pepper, to taste.

Serve the chicken over buttered couscous. WARNING: don't put dollups of the sauce on the couscous when you serve it. The sauce is really sweet and thick--just serve whatever sauce sticks to the  chicken. Trust me on this.

 I served mine with a Moroccan red onion, cilantro, and orange salad--a palate-cleanser after that rich sauce!

A happy husband after his basketball practice...

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