Monday, February 25, 2013

Chicken Tagine with potatoes, fennel & olives

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I have always wanted a Tagine in my kitchen collection, and when my better half's friend moved to Algiers, I got myself one. Since then, it has been used by my better half on various occasions, trying out Moroccan delicacies. Last week, it was my turn to cook something in the Tagine. A simple, chicken dish with potatoes, fresh fennel and olives with hot Lebanese bread as an accompaniment, made it great meal. The rain outside only accentuated the entire eating experience.
The Tagine, is a ceramic or clay cookware that is popular in North African cooking. It consists of 2 parts, the bottom part being a shallow, wide circular dish and the top part consisting of a cone or dome shaped top which sits or covers the bottom part. The top part gives it the unique shape and is such to trap all the steam and promote the return of all condensation to the bottom, giving the food cooked in it the unique taste. This also ensures minimal use of liquid used in cooking.
Tagine also refers to food that is slow cooked inside the vessel.  
Incase you do not have a tagine, you can use a skillet or a casserole with a lid to cook up these delicious stews.

Chicken Tagine with potatoes, fennel and olives

Skinless chicken thighs and legs (with bone) - 6
Potatoes, peeled and cubed - 2
Medium Fennel Bulbs, stalks trimmed, bulbs halved vertically and then cut crosswise - 2
Olives, pitted and quartered lengthwise - half a cup
Onions, finely chopped - 1
Chicken Broth - 2 Cups
Olive Oil - 4 Tblsp

For the marinade:
Garlic, finely chopped  -2
Parsley, finely chopped - 2 tblsp.
Cilantro, finely chopped - 2 tblsp.
Ground cumin - 1 tsp.
Paprika- 1/2 tsp.
cayenne pepper - 1/4 tsp.
Sea Salt - 1/2 tsp.
Lemon Juice - 2 Tblsp
Vinegar - 2 tblsp

1. Make a marinade by blending all the marinade ingredients in a bowl. Add the chicken pieces and coat with the marinade evenly. Keep aside for 30 minutes.
2. Heat 1 tblsp. of oil in a large skillet, casserole or tagine.
3. Add the chicken pieces and brown for 2 minutes per side. Transfer to another plate.

4. Add 1 tblsp. of oil to the same skillet/tagine and add in the fennel. Saute until golden in spots- approx. 5 minutes.Remove to a plate.

5. Add in another tablespoon of oil and add in the cubed potatoes. Cook till they start to turn golden brown. Transfer to another plate.

6. Add in 1 tablespoon of oil to the same skillet/tagine and add in the chopped onions. Saute till they start to turn golden brown. Add in the cooked fennel. Saute for a minute.
7. Return the chicken and potatoes to the skillet/tagine. Add the chicken broth. and olives.

8. Cover with a lid and cook on low flame till chicken is cooked and the sauce has reduced and thickened.

9. Season with salt and pepper.


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