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Thursday, August 7, 2014

Chicken Tagine

Chicken Tagine

We carry a lovely assortment of tagines at The Olive & Vine and are often asked about how to use them. They really are simple to use and once you do, well, take it from me, you will be hooked. They are as functional as they are beautiful and can go from the stove to table, which means less serving dishes to clean up, always a bonus as far as I'm concerned!

The first thing you'll need to do once you purchase a ceramic tagine is to season it (and trust me, this is the hardest part about using it, so do it right away as it is simple but time consuming). You do this by soaking the base and lid in cold water overnight (approx. 12 hrs). Once it is done soaking, let it air dry and then rub both base and lid with olive oil (inside and out). Place both pieces side by side in a cold oven and bring up to 350 degrees for 3 hours. Again, allow to air cool, then fill the base with water (approx. 3/4 full) and place over your heating element (use a diffuser if using electric stove top) and heat up slowly at a low temperature and let the water evaporate down to approx. 1 mm depth. Your tagine is now ready to use. A couple of important things to keep in mind when using a tagine: Wood utensils are best. Never place hot clay on a cold or damp surface. Always cook over low temperatures (not over medium heat on the stovetop or 350 degrees in the oven). Always allow hot clay to cool slowly or warm up slowy (no direct refrigerator to oven or visa versa). Hand wash only. If you haven't used your tagine in several months, repeat the seasoning process for long life.

Both the cooking vessel and the dish you are cooking in it are called a tagine. Here is a great recipe for a chicken tagine to try yourself:

1 tsp. saffron threads
1 chicken (3-1/2 lbs) quartered
3 Tbsp. olive oil
2 med. onions sliced lengthwise
3 garlic cloves minced
2 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. turmeric
1 tsp. lime juice
4 Tbsp. chopped cilantro
2 preserved lemons
1/2 cup purple olives (Moroccan or Greek)

Lightly toast saffron in a dry small skillet over moderate heat until just fragrant (about 1 minute). Transfer to small dish, cool and crumble. With a mortar & pestle mash garlic to a paste with 1/2 tsp. salt. In tagine toss chicken with oil, onions, garlic, ginger, cinnamon, turmeric, lime juice, 3 Tbsp. chopped cilantro, 1 tsp. salt, 1/2 tsp. pepper and saffron. Cut preserved lemons into quarters and scrape pulp from the peel. Coarsely chop pulp and sprinkle over chicken. Cut the peel into strips and reserve. Add 3/4 cups water to tagine and simmer, covered for approx. 30 minutes, until chicken is almost cooked through. Check occasionally to be sure tagine is not dry and add water if necessary to make sure chicken is not sticking to the pot. Add olives and simmer covered for approx. 10 minutes longer (until chicken is cooked through). Just before serving sprinkle with preserved lemon peel, remaining cilantro and salt to taste. Serve on its own or with rice or cous cous.

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