It used to be that if I was reading a recipe that called for a couple of exotic ingredients I didn’t normally keep in my pantry, I tended to pass, assuming it would be overly complicated. But lately, I’ve rediscovered that there’s a total joy in experimenting with unfamiliar ingredients, cooking with new techniques and sampling flavors that mix-up the palate. There’s no better way to shake up the weeknight routine! And the funny thing is, so many of the spices and sauces (like this one) that may seem exotic pack such a major punch of flavor that the rest of the recipe is super simple. I’d always wanted to try making a Moroccan tagine, so when I finally got the traditional vessel (of the same name) for a “Moroccan date night” shot by Kate LeSueur, it was the perfect opportunity to give it a whirl. I looked at a lot of different recipes and settled on a version that involved two new-to-me ingredients (ras el hanout and preserved lemons), plus some of my favorites (green olives, roasted carrots and sweet apricots.) I made this one with juicy chicken thighs, though you could totally leave them out for a delicious vegetarian version. It was so good – we served it over couscous, which let us soak up every last spicy drop of sauce. Keep reading for the recipe…
- 2 bone-in chicken breast halves with the skin left on, each half cut crosswise to total 4 pieces
- 2 bone-in chicken thighs with the skin left on
- kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
- 3 tablespoons ras el hanout, divided (traditional Moroccan spice blend. Look for it on the spice aisle of the grocery store, or make your own.)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 yellow onion, sliced thinly
- 1/2 cup dried apricots, halved
- 8 small potatoes, halved
- 4 baby carrots, peeled with a bit of the green tops left on if possible
- 1/2 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley, plus more for garnish
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
- 1 cup green olives
- 3 preserved lemon wedges, rinsed and pulp removed (or you can also use the peel of 1 lemon)
- Season the chicken all over with kosher salt, freshly ground pepper and 1 tablespoon of ras el hanout. In a tagine or dutch oven, warm the olive oil over medium-high heat. Brown the chicken on all sides (about 7 minutes), then remove from the tagine and set aside.
- Add the onions and sauté, stirring, for 3 minutes until they start to soften. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of ras el hanout, and give it a good stir. Add all the rest of the ingredients to the pot, including the browned chicken. Cover and cook over medium heat for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, until the chicken is fully-cooked and very tender.
- Serve the chicken and vegetables over couscous or rice, and garnish with flat-leaf parsley.
*images by Kate LeSueur