In this chicken tagine recipe, tender chicken thighs are slowly simmered in a stew with flavorful spices and dried apricots. It's then served over barley and topped with crunchy almonds and fresh cilantro.
For once, I'm keeping up with a New Year's goal. I'm right on track for reading thirty books this year, and I’m currently making my way through The Sweet Life in Paris by David Lebovitz. Lebovitz is an American ex-pat cookbook author and blogger who now resides in The City of Lights.
Before moving to France, Lebovitz was the pastry chef for several years at Chez Panisse in Berkeley, California. His blog (davidlebovitz.com) is one I visit regularly. In addition to sharing reliable and compelling recipes, his stories are actually interesting and useful. I often consult his blog for ice cream and cake ideas. He actually has another book all about ice cream.
In The Sweet Life, Lebovitz tells stories from his time living in Paris. And they’re hilarious. I only spent a long weekend in Paris about 10 years ago, and for a number of reasons I’ll take the blame for — bad weather, poor maps, a lack of planning — I didn’t have a good time. I left frustrated, and frankly, underwhelmed, with my visit. As an American, Lebovitz shares his frustrations with Paris, explains the confusing customs, and of course, discusses all he finds out about the food culture. I find myself laughing along, but also curious to learn why he loves living there.
As is common with food memoirs from noteworthy chefs, each chapter concludes with a recipe. While fun, I find that often the recipes are unrelated to the topic of the chapter, and it feels a little disjointed. I also don’t like to bring smaller paperback books into the kitchen with me while I cook. Nevertheless, I’m halfway through Lebovitz’s book and have wanted to make nearly every recipe I’ve encountered. One of the first recipes he includes is for chicken tagine.
what does tagine mean?
While tagine is a popular dish in France, it actually comes from Morocco, a country located in North Africa. A tagine is a stew or casserole where meat or poultry is slowly simmered with vegetables and dried fruit. Apricots, dates, raisins, and prunes are all good options. Preserved lemons and olives may be included in some recipes, as well.
A tagine is also what you call a special type of cooking vessel that is designed for low heat and slow cooking. In other words, you might cook a tagine in a tagine pot. But you can also cook a tagine in any good heavy-bottomed pot, such as a Dutch oven.
With just one pot and most of the cooking unattended, this dish is not just easy, it’s versatile. Aside from swapping out the type of meat and dried fruit, you can alter the spices to your liking. I think the combination here, which I’ve only slightly modified to my own liking, works extremely well. But I did notice that many other tagine recipes also include spices such as cumin, cardamom, and cayenne. Play with a mix of these spices to change up the flavor. In the end, I think it's the balance of the sweetness of the dried fruit and the savoriness of the spices that gives the dish complex flavors without being complicated to prepare.
what goes with chicken tagine?
If you want to balance the meal out a bit more, you can throw in a few additional vegetables, such as sliced carrots or cubed sweet potato to the stew. You might just want to add some more broth if you do. While couscous is the common grain to serve with tagine, I find barley to be a great alternative for soaking up the flavorful sauce. But rice or bulgur would be great, too. Of course, you can't go wrong by starting the meal off with a fresh green salad.