When most people think of Morocco they think tagine, I did not want to disappoint my guests by not serving one. Generally, tagines are filled with meats and fruits and vegetables. The juncture of savory meats, spices, and sweet fruit are a constant in Moroccan cuisine. I love cooking lamb tagines (like my Lamb Tagine with Apricots and Tomatoes), but since I was already cooking a Lamb and Duck Couscous for the dinner, I wanted to allow another flavor into our meal. I decided on chicken but wanted to make sure that it could be paired with the sweetness that is expected in a Moroccan tagine. I added tomatoes and tomato zest, which are cooked down for over an hour to develop a smoky and sweet flavor. In the end, this was one of the most popular dishes! While I was making sure everyone was served, I missed out on a piece of chicken, but was happy enough to sop up the delicious sauce with some freshly baked Moroccan Tagine Bread!
I love my humble cooking tagine, it may not be glazed with beautiful colors, but it is hand formed and works beautifully! It is such a joy to cook in. The second my tagine arrived, I went on a mission to properly season it and prepare it for use. I will share how to season a tagine below, just in case you are starting off with a new dish!
A tagine is a beautifully constructed instrument. Your meat roasts slowly in the bottom of the vessel and melds with the fruits and vegetables that you place in there with it. As the ingredients release steam, the steam climbs up the dish, condenses and comes back down to rehydrate your dish, this way nothing dries out during the 2-3 hour cooking periods.
Seasoning a Tagine
1 unglazed tagine
1 clove garlic, sliced in half
- Soak your tagine in a sink full of water for at least two hours.
Dry the tagine.
- Coat the interior and exterior with olive oil generously.
Rub the clove of garlic all over the interior of the bowl of the dish.
- Place in a cold oven and heat to 300. Bake for 2 hours. Never set a cold tagine in a hot oven or a hot tagine on a cold counter, a shock in temperature could cause the dish to crack.
- Allow the tagine to cool slowly in the oven.
Once cooled, oil one more time and it is ready to use.
Re-season every 6 months or so if you do not use it regularly.
Chicken and Honeyed Tomato Tagine
3 pounds chicken thighs, with skin and bone intact
3 cloves garlic, finely minced
salt and pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
pinch of saffron in 4 tablespoons hot water
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 medium onions, thinly sliced
large handful of cilantro and parsley mixed, coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3 14 ounce containers of whole tomatoes, torn apart with spoon or fingers
1 4 once container of tomato paste
2-3 tablespoons honey
- The night before, combine the garlic, ginger, cumin, saffron water, oil and about 2 teaspoons of salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Mix to a slurry and add chicken. Make sure all sides are covered with the sauce. Marinade overnight in the fridge.
- Set your tagine on the the stove top burner that has the lowest, most even cook setting. A tagine should never be heated to anything above 350 degrees in the oven or above medium-low on the stove top. You can buy a heat diffuser to use on the stove top, but I haven’t gotten one and haven’t yet had a crisis, fingers crossed! I have a very nice even stove top though, so if yours is finicky, I would order one for $5 off of Amazon. Do not heat the tagine empty, add the following ingredients first:
- Mix together the marinated chicken thighs, sliced onions, parsley and cilantro, 1/2 of the cinnamon and 1/2 cup of water.
- Turn heat to medium-low. Bring to a simmer slowly.
Cover with the lid and cook for 40 minutes, stirring and turning the meat every 10-15 minutes.
- Uncover, and cook for 20 minutes longer or until chicken is fully cooked.
- Remove chicken and set aside, covered, in a warm place.
- Add tomatoes and tomato paste and cook for another hour to hour and a half, until smokey and reduced.
- Add honey and remaining cinnamon. Add meat back in and cook to reheat the chicken. You can make everything in advance and then slowly reheat at this point. Make sure to bring the tagine to room temperature before reheating to avoid heat shock.
- Serve in the tagine with Hobz Tagine Bread. Make sure you place the tagine on a wooden plank or a folded up towel to prevent cold shock.
Total cooking time: 3-3.5 hours, serves 6 alone or 12-14 as part of a larger meal.