This is a delicious, quick, lean alternative to a heavier chicken curry. I have adapted this from America Test Kitchen’s recipe. No one in the family is that fond of chicken breast, so I use only chicken thighs/legs on the bone (use the bones when you can, they add way more flavour to the sauce). It’s very easy to make, freeze, and reheat; the flavours also improve with some amount of keeping.
If you buy chicken with skin, don’t waste the skin. Here’s a simple way to make a delicious chicken crackling snack for the kids (or adults!) to eat.
Chicken Tagine with Couscous
This is a great weekday dinner dish. Serve the tagine with a simple to make couscous and a Greek salad. If you like the taste of preserved lemon and would like to make your own, it's very easy. See the note below. Always add a little salt to onions whilst frying them, regardless of what a recipe might say, as it helps to draw out water from the onions and avoids them burning, especially when the amount of cooking is frugal.
For the Tagine:
Season chicken pieces with salt and pepper. Heat fat in a heavy casserole or pot (like a Le Creuset) over medium-high heat until beginning to smoke. Brown chicken pieces, in the fat for about 8-10 min, and remove and set aside.
Ensure there’s at least 1 tablespoon of fat in the pot, and add onion, pinch of salt and fry for 5 to 7 minutes until the onions start looking golden. (add 1 tablespoon water if pan gets too dark). Add the garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add all the spices and cook, stirring constantly, until darkened and very fragrant, 45 seconds to 1 minute. Stir in stock and honey, scraping up any browned bits. Add chicken pieces with any juices, reduce heat to medium, and simmer for 5 minutes.
Add carrots & preserved lemon, reduce heat, cover and simmer about 10-15 minutes until the chicken is almost cooked.
Uncover pot, increase heat and add olives to pot; simmer rapidly until sauce has thickened slightly and carrots are tender, 4 to 6 minutes. Add the reserved grated garlic & lemon zest (and lemon juice, if using).
Mix well, and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Garnish with chopped coriander. Serve with Couscous.
For the Couscous:
Whilst the tagine is cooking, make the couscous. Heat butter in medium saucepan over medium heat. When foaming subsides, add couscous and cook, stirring frequently, until grains are just beginning to brown, about 5 minutes.
Add water, stock, and salt, if using; stir briefly to combine, cover, and remove pan from heat. Let stand until grains are tender, about 7 minutes.
Uncover and fluff grains with fork. Season with pepper to taste and serve. Make the couscous more flavourful, by adding some extras, see notes below.
Some tasty additions to couscous: Nuts - toasted flaked almonds, pistachios, toasted pine nuts and/or currants, dried cherries, sultanas or raisins
Preserved lemon - All you need is good unwaxed lemons and coarse sea salt. Cut the lemon into quarters (without cutting through the base, keeping it intact). Stuff 1 tablespoon of coarse salt into the openings. Put lemons into a glass jar such that when you close the lid, the lemons are squeezed together. Close jar, and keep in a cool dark place for at least 1 week. The lemons keep for a long time, and are delicious addition to salads, and middle eastern dishes.