One pot meals are my favourite way to serve a tableful of family and friends. Everyone pitches in to help the person next or across from them at the table; there is talking and sharing and camaraderie. Plates are passed around to be filled and re-filled with stews or curries, or in this case, tagines. Although I refer to the Moroccan stew as the tagine, a tagine is also the name of the Moroccan cooking utensil for slow-cooking stews and vegetables dishes originally over coals. The cone-shaped lid traps the steam from the stew and condenses the liquid back into the base. No extra liquid needs to be added, as the tagine self-bastes, and the food cooks to extreme tenderness.
Instead of a tagine, I cook my meal in a roasting pan with a good-fitting lid (a dutch oven) and place it in the oven at 350° F. for about an hour and then lower the temperature to 200 degrees for an additional hour..aromas wafting through the house as people arrive, well worth it.
I prepared a more complex version of a Ras El Hanout spice blend previously. Below is a simpler blend; however, it is also very tasty.
Ras El Hanout
2 tsp. ground nutmeg
1 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. salt
3/4 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp. ground allspice
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. saffron threads
This is enough for a meal prepared for 4 servings.
An assortment of colourful vegetables and spices make this tagine recipe one of my favourites.
Equal amounts of carrots, zucchini, onions and garlic, depending on how many people you are serving. Three each of onions, carrots, zucchini and garlic will make four servings. The onions, carrots and zucchini are sliced into large rounds. The garlic is roughly chopped. Heat some olive oil in a large pan and saute all the vegetables until just starting to get tender.
Add salt and pepper to taste, sprinkle on the Ras El Hanout, 2 tablespoons of honey, 2 teaspoons of harissa (can be found in mid-east supermarkets or ethnic aisle of your supermarket) and 3/4 cup of dried apricots. Once all is mixed, add a cup of either chicken broth, vegetable broth or water.
At this step, I made two versions of the tagine, one with chicken and one vegetarian. I doubled the recipe and and in one pot, I layered boneless skinless chicken, breasts (sliced in half, lengthwise) and thighs to cover the vegetables, basted the chicken with some of the broth and put it in the oven to bake.
The second pot contained the same vegetable base and I added one 796 ml (28 oz) can of rinsed chickpeas and mixed them into the vegetable base.
When both tagines are ready, sprinkle chopped cilantro on top and bring to the table. I prepared some mujedrah as a side dish. What a meal to share with friends and family.
Chicken (or Chickpea) Tagine with Apricots
3 onions, 3 zucchini, 3 carrots all cut into thick rounds
3 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
6 tbsp. olive oil
Ras El Hanout Spice Mix (above)
2 tbsp. honey
2 tsp. harissa or hot sauce, to taste
3/4 cup dried apricots
1 cup chicken broth or vegetable broth (for the vegetarian version) or water
salt and pepper, to taste.
6 pieces of chicken, your choice of breasts and/or thighs, boneless and skinless, or
1 28 oz. (976 mL) can of chickpeas, rinsed
Chopped cilantro or flat-leaf parsley for garnish
- Preheat the oven to 350° F.
- Prepare the Ras El Hanout spice mix (or use a prepared blend)
- In a large skillet, add the oil and soften the vegetables, about 5 minutes. Add the salt and pepper, apricots, honey, harissa and spice blend and keep cooking for 2 more minutes. Add the broth and mix through.
- Place the vegetable mixture into a large roasting pot with a lid and layer the chicken pieces over the mixture. Baste with the broth. Put the lid on and place in oven for about 60-90 minutes. (For the vegetarian version, use water or vegetable broth, omit the chicken and add a large can of chickpeas to the vegetable mixture and continue to cook the same way).
- Top with chopped cilantro or parsley leaves.
Serve with mujedrah or plain couscous. It’s there to soak up the delicious liquid.
Serves about 4 but doubling the recipe makes terrific leftovers.
Variation: You can also mix some chickpeas in with the chicken; makes a delicious and hearty combination too.