Tuesday, 6 September 2016

Chicken and Apricot Tagine

I have been cooking tagines of different variations for a few years now and each time yields a different result, but the version below has been our favourite to date. It's a rich, aromatic Middle Eastern flavour with a slight kick of heat, but mild enough for our nearly two-year-old, Bridget to enjoy too, so a great Baby Bites, family meal idea.

The great thing with a tagine is that you can adapt it according to what you have to hand, but I almost insist you include the dried apricots here, they absorb the moisture and puff up into such a delicious little morsel and with the drizzle of honey bring a lovely sweetness to the dish which helps to balance the flavours.

I serve with jewelled couscous (made with peppers, spring onions, pomegranate seeds and coriander) but you could serve with rice or with warm, fresh bread if you prefer.

Chicken and apricot tagine

Here's how:
  • 1 onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • Big piece ginger
  • 8 chicken thighs
  • 1 tbsp ras el hanout
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 tsp dried chilli flakes
  • 1 tsp dried coriander
  • 2 carrots
  • 100g dried apricots
  • 2 tomatoes
  • 500ml chicken stock
  • 1.5 tbsp honey
  • 1 tsp white pepper
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • Garnish:
  • Handful coriander leaves
  • Handful flaked almonds

Firstly add the olive oil to a non-stick pan and place on a low heat. Pre-heat the oven to 180 and rearrange the shelves so your tagine fits in before the oven gets hot. If you don't own an actual tagine, use a casserole dish with a lid.

Now take the chicken thighs and scatter over half the ras el hanout on the skin side, then add to the pan, skin-side-down and sear for four or five minutes. Pop the rest of the ras el hanout over the other side of the thighs and when the skin side is nicely browned, turn over and cook for the same amount of time or until no pink exterior remains, remove from the pan and add to the tagine base.

Now peel and slice an onion and mince the garlic and add to the tagine. Peel the ginger and either slice or grate into the tagine.

Take two tomatoes and dice then peel the carrots and chop them into batons and add to the dish.

Now add the remaining spices and seasonings, the apricots, honey and chicken stock and give a good stir. Replace the lid and cook for 40 minutes.

In the meantime prepare your accompaniments ready to dish up. Serve with a flourish of fresh coriander leaves and once on the plate scatter with flaked almonds. Delicious!

Tip: if serving to toddlers or small children as I do, I go for a 'de-constructed' version when dishing up. I de-skin the chicken and cut into bite-sized chunks, not because my daughter is unable, but the tagine keeps the heat incredibly high and this is a good way of cooling the meat a little so she doesn't burn her little mouth.

More tagine recipes from me:

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