Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Chicken and Onion Tagine

I made Moroccan food for my friend's party this last weekend and a few of the dishes turned out so well that I have to share them with you. I'm a big fan of stew as long slow cooking brings out some amazing flavors. Stew is comfort food for me and for a party, a stew also allows you to make it ahead of time so there isn't so much last minute craziness. You just heat and serve. And as most of you know, stew gets better after it sits in the fridge for a day or two and that time allows the flavors to meld. This particular dish was based on two recipes - one from Epicurious and one from Saveur Magazine but I adapted it to what I had on hand and one of the biggest changes was using Meyer Lemons as my friend has a big tree full of fruit in her yard. I also added the rind as it is quite flavorful and much less bitter than regular lemons. This stew, or Tagine, as the Moroccans and Tunisians call it was my favorite dish and I could eat this one all the time. I think you will like it too.

Chicken and Onion Tagine

1 Tbsp salt + 1 tsp salt
6 cloves garlic, roughly chopped  
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp paprika  
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp saffron threads soaked in a small amount of water 
6 Tbsp Olive Oil  
8 whole chicken legs (thighs and legs cut into pieces and skin removed)
4 medium onions - yellow and red, cut into 12 pieces
Freshly ground black pepper
Juice and grated rind of 1 large or 2 medium Meyer Lemons

For Garnish: 1 cup pitted green olives  
Chopped Cilantro Leaves
Cooked Rice

Mix together the salt and garlic in a mortar and mix together with the pestle until it becomes a paste.  Add cumin, paprika, and turmeric and mix thoroughly. Stir in 3 Tbsps of oil then add to a large bowl containing the chicken and mix until coated. Cover and place in the refrigerator for at least one hour and up to overnight to marinate. 

When ready to cook, heat remaining 3 Tbsps of oil in a large pot on high heat. Working in batches, add chicken pieces, and cook, turning one time until brown on both sides, then put each on a plate until all are done. Then lower the heat slightly and add the saffron and onions to the pot, season with one teaspoon of salt and some pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft. Return the chicken to pot along with lemon juice and lemon rind and 1 cup of water, and bring to a boil.  Then, reduce heat and cook with the cover on for one hour. Put into a large bowl and sprinkle the olives and cilantro on top.  Serve with steamed white rice.

Five Element Analysis

Chicken belongs to the Wood Element and the olives and the lemon juice and rind add even more so this dish is fundamentally Wood.  The long cooked onions represent the Earth Element and it is a stew, which is an Earthy way to cook, so that element is strong too.  The spices and garlic bring in the Metal Element, but the Fire Element only has pepper to represent it so be sure to serve it with Harissa and the Water Element is missing so bring that in with another dish that is Watery, like Eggplant to create a balanced meal.

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