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Making a Tagine in a Tagine

Cold weather calls for stews or soups, and since I have a Moroccan tagine, I cooked a chicken tagine. That sounds like some sort of puzzle, and, in a way, it is. A tagine is a cooking vessel used by the Berbers, the indigenous people of Northern African who populated the territory west of the Nile River. The meat or vegetable cooked in the vessel is called a “tagine.” This cooking pot is shaped like a pie plate with a cone-shaped lid which allows the steam to gather and “descend” onto the food in the bowl. Traditionally, cooking vessel was made of clay, and the heat source was a charcoal burner. A heavy saute pan or cast iron skillet with a lid will work, too. However, there just seems to be something almost magical about using the old type of dish for the dish. The tagine can be cooked on the range top and finished in the oven, or cooked entirely on the range, Modern tagines are usually made of clay, but Le Creuset makes one of cast iron coated with enamel. (It is a beauty!!!)

During the winter that we had two weeks ago I made the following stew from a  recipe that I found at


     2 teaspoons paprika
     1 teaspoon ground cumin
     1 teaspoon ground ginger
     1 teaspoon turmeric
     1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
     1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
 I also added 2 teaspoons of Ras El Hanout, a combination of some of the above spices  and is used  in tagines.
     2 tablespoons olive oil
     1 chicken, 3-4 lbs, cut into 8 pieces (or 3-4 pounds of just chickien thighs and legs; the dark meat is more flavorful.) I used boneless, skinless thighs. The bone and skin add more flavor, but I couldn’t pass up the convenience. I cut the thighs into about four pieces each. However, there was a little more meat than was needed. 2 1/2 to 3 lbs would be better, I think.
     3 cloves garlic, minced
     1 onion, chopped
     The peel of 1 preserved lemon, minced in cold water, pulp discarded, peel cut into thin strips (This such a wonderful addition that you will want to find or make some.)
     1 cup green olives, pitted
     1/2 cup water
     1/2 cup raisins

     1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
     1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

 1. Combine all the spices in a large bowl. Pat dry the chicken pieces and put in the bowl, coat well withh the spice mixture. Let the chicken stand for one hour in the spices.

2. In a large, heavy-bottomed skillet , heat the olive oil on medium high heat. Add the chicken pieces, sprinkle lightlt with salt (go easy on the salt, the olives and lemons are salty), and brown, skin side down for five minutes. (If you are using a clay tagine, you will skip the browning step, heat only to medium heat and use a heat diffuser on the heating element to prevent the tagine from cracking.) Lower the heat to medium-low, add the garlic and onions. cover and let cook for 15 minutes.

3, Turn chicken pieces over. Add the lemon slices, olives raisins, and 1/2 cup water. Bring to a simmer on medium heat, then lower the heat to low, cover and cook for an additional 30 minutes, until the achickien is cooked through and quite tender. This can be finished in a 300 degree oven.

4. Mix in fresh parsley and cilantro right before serving Adjust seasons to taste.

Serve with coucous, rice or a rice pilaf.

I served the chicken with Jasmine rice. And I added more chicken broth because the sauce is so good that I wanted to get more of it for the rice.

Good cooking to you. Next I want give an account of making a Tarte Tatin.


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