Posted by Gail | Filed under Gail Cooks!
I’m a fan of putting a whole bunch of interesting spices into a pot with a couple packs of chicken pieces. I find highly seasoned chicken surrounded by its juices flavoured with the world not only delish but extremely economical and time-saving. Put the left overs in the fridge for lunch. Freeze some for a night when there’s no time to start from scratch.
A “Tangine” is a Berber dish from North Africa that’s named after the earthenware pot in which it is cooked. Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia and Libya all have their own versions of what “goes in the pot.”
Whenever I come across a new recipe, I see it as a starting point, a guideline from which to improvise. If there’s an ingredient I don’t like (tarragon, dill) I find something I like more, contemplate its interaction with everything else and swap flavours.
This recipe calls for a spice combination that hails from Morocco called Ras el hanout. The name means “head or top of the shop” in Arabic and refers to the best spices a seller has to offer. There’s no definitive combination for the creation of Ras el hanout, but typical spices include allspice, cardamom, clove, cinnamon, ground chili peppers, cloves, coriander, cumin, ginger, nutmeg, peppercorn and turmeric. Some of the ingredients include things I’ve never seen nor heard off like ash berries, chufa, Monk’s pepper and cubebs.
If you Google a recipe for Ras el Hanout you’ll see dozens of combinations of spices, and this “seasoning” can be used on virtually all cuts of meat as well as to flavour rice and couscous.
As a starting point for your experimentation I offer you a fairly simple combination of ingredients. Please improvise and let me know how yours turned out.
Ras el Hanout Spice Mix:
- 1 tbs caraway seeds (grind with mortar and pestle)
- 1 tbs ground cumin
- 1 tbs ground cardamom
- 3 tbs cinnamon
- 1 tsp tumeric
- Pinch of cayenne pepper
For the Tagine:
- 8 chicken legs, thighs and drumsticks separated
- 8 cloves of garlic chopped fine
- 1/2 cup of olive oil
- 1 cup dried apricots chopped
- 1 cup dates, pitted
- 3 onions, sliced
- 3 tablespoons almond butter
- Salt and pepper
- 1/4 cup cilantro leaves
- Mix 3 tbs of Ras el hanout with garlic cloves and olive oil to a smooth paste.
- Rub chicken thighs and drumsticks thoroughly with paste and marinate for a minimum of 1 hour in the fridge.
- Place marinated chicken into a large pot*. Add remaining ingredients, except cilantro.
- Add enough water to cover, put a tight fitting lid on the pot and place over medium-high heat.
- Simmer for 2 hours, until the chicken is tender and the liquid has thickened. Adjust seasoning and add cilantro leaves just before serving.
*I use an earthenware tagine for this because I have one and cook the meal in the oven at 350 degrees. You could also use a crockpot, adjusting the cooking time. Or you can do it stove-top as described here.