Tagine Ta-rials

At Flat 493, we do a fairly regular rotation of baked chicken or some sort of fish with roasted veggies and a grain (aka clean the fridge and playing my own personal at-home version of Chopped) and Hampton’s many specialties — including pork tenderloin with a cherry sauce, bone-in pork chops with a white wine/mustard sauce, and filet mignon with a port wine reduction that he needs to figure out how to bottle and sell so we can retire.

We do enjoy an experiment, however, and were recently inspired by a Food and Wine recipe for saffron chicken tagine.  It had many of our favorite flavors and seemed like a good way to learn a new base technique that we could then tinker with.

Starting the night before, we prepped chicken with a variety of herbs and spices: cumin, cinnamon, parsley, ginger, garlic, paprika, just to name a few. Since the Trader Joe was out of preserved lemons, I looked up a way to fake it on the Internet. Handy!

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Everyone in the kitchen!

The next day, it was time to scrape off the marinate — which was really more like a rub? — and brown the chicken.

George wanted to help, too.

I am vaguely ashamed to admit I have never fried chicken, but now I’m a little less afraid of the idea.

Oh, the aroma!  It smelled so good with the cinnamon and ginger.

As the chicken cooked, we mise en place’d all the veg. And olives. I do so love a recipe with olives.

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And, yes, I ate the rest of the can of olives as we cooked.

We don’t have a tagine or an enameled cast-iron Dutch oven, so we did our best with a large stockpot and let everything simmer for a bit.

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Unfortunately, my idea of “moderately low” heat was a bit too low… so it had to simmer some more.  And Hampton added some extra stock because it thought it looked less like a stew than it should be.

When everything was finally done, we plated up…
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And it was… fine?  Apparently the extra stock diluted some of the flavors we were expecting. Further research has shown that if not using a proper vessel, if your lid doesn’t fit well, wrap it in tin foil. #themoreyouknow  Also, we were somehow out of lemons (we are never out of lemons), and it could have benefited from the additional (and prescribed) hit of citrus acid. We tried to use some vinegar and half of an old lime, to some avail. Luckily, we had added mint and pinenuts to the accompanying cous cous, which helped with overall flavors.

We dosed the remains with several shakes of berbere for heat and galangal and additional salt and pepper for more flavor, and the leftovers were much better!

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Bonus: meal prep!

Despite our first attempt at tagine not being the best thing ever, we did have fun. Normally only one or the other of us is in the kitchen, so it was neat to cook together. And we have some ideas of what to do different next time! …like asking for a proper Le Creuset Dutch oven for Christmas (;

If you’ve ever cooked a tagine, I’d love to hear your technique tips or flavor combination ideas!

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