The first thing I have to say is whilst this is cooking the smells from the kitchen are stunning, if licking air was possible my tongue would be out constantly. So, Paulie and I have treated ourselves to a new kitchen toy, a Le Creuset tagine. We make a lot of tagines and bought one whilst on holiday only to find the base cannot be used on the hob, hence we wanted to purchase a fully useable one. We were so pleased with the result and we can’t wait to try all different middle eastern flavours and combinations. Tonight we based our recipe on Mary Berry’s but as usual for us we tweaked it to meet our own lifestyle by turning it in to a one pot by adding chickpeas. The flavours of the harissa and ground spice are beautifully aromatic and I love how each mouthful tastes slightly different either sweet from an apricot or fragrant from a preserved lemon or both combined with the chicken and spices. The tagine made the chicken so moist I enjoyed every mouthful and can’t wait for the next one once we are back from holiday.
Ingredients (serves 2 plus freezing)
- 4 bone-in chicken thighs
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 large onion, coarsely chopped
- 20g fresh root ginger, finely chopped
- 2 tsp ground coriander
- 2 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 2 large garlic cloves, crushed
- 1½ tsp harissa paste
- 1 tbsp runny honey
- 1/2 tin tomatoes (reserve half for next day freezing or use all if you are having 2 thighs each)
- 1 x tin of chickpeas
- 400ml chicken stock
- 100g dried apricots
- 1 preserved lemon (recipe here)
- Preheat oven 170 degrees (fan). Heat the oil in the base of tagine or a flameproof casserole over a medium–high heat until hot and fry the chicken until golden brown on all sides, around 3-4 minutes. Remove using a slotted spoon, transfer to a large plate, and set aside.
- Add the onion and ginger to the oil in the pan and soften over a low heat for 5 minutes, stirring frequently and scraping the bottom of the pan to release any sticky bits left from the chicken. Add the ground spices and fry for 2-3 minutes, stirring constantly (if mixture goes dry to prevent burning the ground spices add a splash of water to loosen).
- Add the garlic, harissa paste and honey, and stir well again. Add the tinned chickpeas and 1/2 the tinned tomatoes (all if eating both thighs). Pour in 350ml of the stock and bring to the boil, stirring often. Return the reserved chicken to the pan, together with the juices that have collected on the plate.
- Quarter the apricots and chop the preserved lemon to a similar size. Add the fruits to the pan. Press down the chicken and fruits to submerge them in the sauce.
- Cover with tagine lid or casserole lid and cook in the oven for 1 hour or until the chicken is tender and cooked through. Lift the lid half way through to check if the you need to top up with the reserved stock if it is becoming dry.
- If freezing half, the following day add the other half of tinned tomatoes and left over stock and mix into the left overs before freezing.