Sunday, January 21, 2007

Moroccan Stew: Chicken Tagine with Lemon and Olives

I decided to go Moroccan for the inaugural Waiter, There's Something in my . . . Stew hosted by Spittoon Extra. This is a fun new blogging event with a different foodie theme for each month. For my entry, I chose Chicken Tagine with Lemon and Olives from the January, 2007 issue of Cooking Light Magazine. A tagine, the food, is a rich Moroccan stew. Many tagines are vegetarian, but I also like ones with meat. The cooking method yields some wonder flavors making something really special out of vegetables.

A tajine (tah-zheen) is a Moroccan dish as well as a special pot for preparing this dish. The traditional tajine pot is formed entirely of a heavy clay which is sometimes painted or glazed. It consists of two parts; a bottom which is flat and circular with low sides, and a large cone or dome shaped cover that rests inside of the bottom during cooking. The cover is so designed to promote the return of all condensate to the bottom. With the cover removed, the bottom is open and shallow for easy serving at the table.

Tajine dishes are slow cooked at low temperatures, resulting in tender, falling-off-the-bone meat with aromatic vegetables and sauce. The cover has a knob-like formation at its top to facilitate removing it. While simmering, the cover can be lifted off without the aid of a mitten, enabling the cook to inspect the main ingredients, add vegetables, move things around, or add additional braising liquid, if needed.

While a ceramic tagine is on my wish-list, I currently don't own one. I made this dish in deep pan on the stove. I have only prepared a tagine one other time in my life and it came out so flavorful and tender that I immediately fell in love with them. The smells in the house are so amazing while it is cooking and it is perfect for a comforting Sunday evening meal. The taste with the Moroccan flavors is always so different from my average meals that I feel all proud because it tastes as good as anything you would eat at a restaurant.

And, it was perfect meal for tonight because THE CHICAGO BEARS ARE GOING TO THE SUPERBOWL!!!!!! They are my home team. I was in grade school the last time they went and watching the game tonight made me totally homesick . . . except for the fact that my house was all warm and yummy smelling like it used to be when I'd have friends over to watch the Bears games on Sunday afternoons in Chicago. It was always freezing cold and we'd all cuddle up on the couch and then we'd eat a good meal. Even though it's hot down here in Florida, watching it snow on TV and smelling a cold-weather stew made it perfect.

The recipe is good as it stands, but the only thing I suggest is to use olives from an "olive bar" that are found in a lot of supermarkets. The olives really make this dish and the ones out of the jar won't be as fresh. If you have to use jarred olives, make sure you buy large ones.

Chicken Tagine with Lemon and Olives
Serves 6 (serving size: 2 chicken thighs and 1/3 cup sauce)

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
12 skinless, boneless chicken thighs
1/4 cup all-purpose flour (about 1 ounce)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper
2 teaspoons olive oil
2 cups chopped onion (about 2 medium)
1 teaspoon minced peeled fresh ginger
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
1/4 cup pitted green olives, halved (about 12)
2 teaspoons grated lemon rind
1 (3-inch) cinnamon stick
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

Combine juice and chicken in a large zip-top plastic bag. Seal and marinate in refrigerator 30 minutes. Remove chicken from bag; discard marinade.

Pat chicken dry with paper towels. Dredge in flour; sprinkle with salt, black pepper, turmeric, and red pepper. Heat olive oil in a large nonstick skillet with high sides over medium-high heat. Add half of chicken; cook for 3 minutes on each side or until lightly browned. Remove from pan. Repeat procedure with remaining chicken.

Add onion, ginger, and garlic to pan; sauté 5 minutes or until tender. Return chicken to pan. Add broth, olives, rind, and cinnamon stick; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 1 hour or until chicken is tender. Discard the cinnamon stick; stir in cilantro.

CALORIES 240(34% from fat); FAT 9.1g (sat 1.6g,mono 4.4g,poly 2g); PROTEIN 28.6g; CHOLESTEROL 115mg; CALCIUM 27mg; SODIUM 612mg; FIBER 0.8g; IRON 1.8mg; CARBOHYDRATE 9.9g


Kate said...

Yum....we love Chicken Tagine and I did a post on it a while back. Feel free to search. Yours looks a lot like my recipe. The smell of it cooking is enough to make me absolutely mad with desire

rachel said...

I know, all tagines smell SO good! I'm yearning for one of those ceramic tagines just so I can feel all cool.

andrea joseph's sketchblog said...

I have stopped eating chicken recently and don't eat meat. I've only ever used chicken in my tajine before now - but what about fish? Can you use it. Any good recipes - or even veggie recipes. Interesting bog - got the link from the Blooger help group.

Elle said...

Never tried a tagines but this one is beautiful. Add it to the 'must try' list!
Go Bears! I love Chicago, even though I've never lived there.

ejm said...

Ha, great minds think alike, Rachel - we went with a Moroccan stew as well.... I was about to be seriously jealous of your ceramic tagine until I realized it was on your wish list too. We used a wok - works perfectly well.

Oh yes and did I remember to say that the stew looks great? Because it does.


ejm said...

Excuse me for commenting twice... Andrea Joseph, we have made a wonderful grilled squid dish with olives, garlic and lemon. And I bet it would be good with any firm fish.


Judith in Umbria said...

Have you looked at halal butchers for tagines? Ours has some gorgeous ones for a fraction of the ceramics shops' prices.

Paul said...

Nice. But: no cumin?!

And, a really great addition: Moroccan style pickled lemon. Easy to do, check the web. They're great!