I received this lovely North African cooking vessel from my good friends, Dennis and Diana Makes 3 years ago, and I have been hesitant to use it. Why, I am not sure, as I generally am not shy about anything in the kitchen. I have never cooked in a Tagine and am still perplexed I did not do the research right away to see how easy (and fun!) it is to use. I am so glad I finally did. What a great night we had cooking together. If cooking in your Tagine for the first time, you have to “cure” or “season” it.
First, soak both top and bottom for several hours or overnight in water. I have a round prep sink that was the perfect size for soaking both pieces. Dry well. Next, place in a cold oven set for 300 degrees and “cook” for 2 hours. Turn the oven off and let the Tagine cool in the oven. When cool, gently hand wash in soapy water. Dry and rub lightly with olive oil for storage. Now you are ready to cook!
Now that I have used it I can see the possibilities for great combinations of spices, herbs and flavors; meats, sauces, fish, are endless! Here is the first recipe we tried, which I found online at Simply Recipes. I followed fairly closely, with only a couple variations, since it was my first time.
WITH LEMON AND OLIVES
2 tsp. paprika (I also added 1 tsp. smoked paprika)
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. ground ginger (I also added some fresh ginger root zest before cooking.)
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbsp. Olive Oil
1 chicken, 3-4 lbs., cut into 8 pieces (I used 4 large chicken thighs, bone in, skin on)
3 cloves minced garlic
1 onion chopped
The rind from 1 preserved lemon rinsed in cold water, pulp discarded, rind cut into thin strips (Recipe says regular lemon works, too, but it is easy to make preserved lemon*.)
1 cup green olives (I used Castlevetrano.)
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped (Had no parsley so used more cilantro.)
|Preparing the green beans, which accompanied our meal.
Diana prefers to set all the ingredients out before beginning her cooking so that is what we did. I go back and forth, but was happy to do it that way since she was the guest in my kitchen. It does help you to NOT forget an ingredient.
Make the spice rub by combining all spices–paprika, cumin, ginger, turmeric, cinnamon, black pepper–in a large bowl. Pat the chicken pieces dry and put in the bowl, coat well with the spice mixture. Let the chicken stand for one hour in the spices. I like to put the pieces in a zip lock bag so every so often you can turn them easily to ensure that all pieces get the benefit of the spice rub.
Add the olive oil to the Tagine. Brown the chicken on medium heat in your Tagine (you can also use an ordinary skillet, but this is much more exotic!). If you are using a clay Tagine on top of the stove you must place a heat diffuser underneath to prevent it from cracking. Sprinkle the chicken very lightly with salt (both olives and preserved lemon are salty). Cook for 5 minutes or until lightly browned.
|All ingredients together.
Ready to cook for the last 30 minutes.
|Here I am adding the onions.
Add garlic and onions, (and freshly grated ginger root if you are using it) and water, then cover and simmer: Turn chicken pieces over. Add the lemon slices, olives, raisins, and 1/2 cup water.
Bring to a simmer on medium heat, then lower heat to low, cover, and cook for an additional 30 minutes until chicken is cooked through and tender.
Stir in parsley and cilantro. Adjust seasoning to taste.
|Served with lightly steamed green beans seasoned with
a tbsp. of butter and fat tsp. of Dijon mustard
and farro cooked in rich chicken broth topped with fresh cilantro.
To make preserved lemon:
Place 3 to 4 lemons in a container large enough to cover with water. Add 3 Tbsp. Kosher salt, a few peppercorns and the juice of 1/2 lemon.
I am tasting this delicious dish all over again. Wish it was on the menu tonight! I will let you know what I come up with next using my beautiful Tagine.
Until next time…
Besseha and Ma-saa Al Kh-ir!
(Bon Appetit and Good night!)
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