Published May 1, 2006.
Time-consuming techniques and esoteric ingredients make cooking authentic Moroccan chicken a daunting proposition. We had one hour and supermarket staples.
Authentic tagines--exotically spiced, assertively flavored stews slow-cooked in earthenware vessels of the same name--require time-consuming, labor-intensive cooking methods, a special pot, and hard-to-find ingredients.
We wanted the depth and flavor of an authentic tagine, but we also wanted to complete it in one hour using supermarket staples and standard cooking equipment.
Turning to our favorite pot for braised dishes--a heavy-bottomed Dutch oven--we followed our standard braised chicken procedure. We browned the chicken pieces, leaving the skin on to give the braising liquid a deep flavor, and then removed the chicken from the pot to remove the skin (which would turn rubbery if left on). While the chicken was out of the pot, we sautéed onion, strips of lemon zest, garlic, and a spice blend (paprika, cumin, cayenne, ginger, coriander, and cinnamon) in a little oil, then added chicken broth and honey and finally returned the dark-meat chicken to the pot. After giving the dark meat a quick head start, we added a layer of carrots, which we used to prop the breasts above the braising liquid, thereby allowing the white meat to cook at a gentle enough pace to keep from turning dry and stringy. Finally, we brightened the dish with olives and fresh garlic, lemon, and cilantro.list of recipes