Quick Chicken Tagine
You can make this in 30 minutes, couscous and all, and do it all on the stovetop.
Tagine is the national dish of Morocco, a braise of meats or fish with fruits, nuts, olives, or vegetables. Traditionally served with couscous, it is the quintessential one-pot dish. This version is quick and easy any night of the week thanks to the ingredients and method. Using boneless-skinless breasts mean that the dish can be prepared entirely on the stovetop and in a short period of time. Briny olives, salty preserved lemon, hearty chickpeas, and sweet apricots team up for a bright and balanced showstopper!
Equipment: cutting board; chef’s knife; measuring spoons; wet and dry measuring cups; mixing bowl; rubber spatula; large sauté pan with high sides and a tight-fitting lid or Dutch oven; plate or platter; tongs; wooden spoon
Ingredients: 4 chicken breasts, boneless/skinless
1½ tablespoons sweet or smoky paprika
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon ground cumin ½ teaspoon ground coriander ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper ¼ ground cinnamon
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 small yellow onion, sliced 2 garlic cloves minced 1-inch piece of ginger, finely minced 3 carrots, peeled, cut into 1-inch chunks 1 cup cooked chickpeas
½ cup dried apricots
¼ cup green olives, sliced in half crosswise
1 tablespoon chopped preserved lemon
2 cups chicken stock 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro 1 tablespoon chopped mint kosher salt and black pepper to taste
1. First, season the chicken breasts. In a large mixing bowl combine the paprika, teaspoon of kosher salt, turmeric, cumin, coriander, cayenne pepper, and cinnamon. Dredge each chicken breast in the spice mixture, turning to coat thoroughly. Set aside.
2. Heat a large, high-sided pan over medium-high heat and add 1 tablespoon of oil, swirling to coat the pan. Add the chicken pieces, presentation side-down and cook for 3 minutes, until the chicken has seared, before turning. Cook on the other side for 3 minutes and remove from the pan and set aside.
3. Add another 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil to the pan and add the onion, garlic, and ginger. Sauté until the onion is translucent and tender, stirring often, about 5 minutes. Add the carrots and sauté for 1-2 minutes longer.
ILOC tip: if you cannot find preserved lemons in a jar in the grocery store, slice half a fresh lemon into slices crosswise and cut each slice into sixths.
4. Stir in the chickpeas, apricots, olives, and preserved lemon. Sprinkle with kosher salt. Add the chicken stock, scraping the bottom of the pan to return any spices to the sauce. Tuck the chicken breasts into the stew so that they are partially submerged in the liquid and vegetables. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 10 minutes.
ILOC tip: Prepare the couscous, which cooks very quickly, while the tagine is simmering for the 10 minutes.
5. Remove the lid and check that the chicken is cooked through, firm to the touch with just a slight give. Remove the chicken to a platter, loosely cover with aluminum foil, and set aside.
6. Return the heat to medium-high and continue cooking the stew until the carrots have further softened and the liquid has reduced by half.
7. Slice the chicken breasts into slices and sprinkle with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, if desired. Serve with the vegetables and reduced sauce over couscous. Sprinkle with chopped cilantro and mint.
Makes 4 servings.