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  • Carlos Sarmiento

Moroccan Chicken Tagine


(Photo: Carlos Sarmiento)

As the saying goes, variety is the spice the life.


Today‘s feature dish comes from an enchanting Northern African country, nestled between the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean, where spices indeed take you on a savory trek to...Morocco.


(Photo: Henry Dick)


A tajine or tagine, is a traditional Berber dish, named after the earthenware pot in which it is cooked.


The earliest written records about the concept of cooking in a tagine appear in the famous One Thousand and One Nights, an Arabic-language story collection from the ninth century.


(Photo: Don Fontijn)


Today, the cooking-pot and its traditional broth are primarily prepared in the Middle East and North Africa. There are different ways to prepare the tagine.

In the original qidra style, saman (clarified butter) is used to lubricate the surface and a puree of chopped onion is added for flavor and aroma. For muqawlli-style cooking, the ingredients are placed in olive oil to enrich the flavors.


(Photo: EH)


Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia all have their own style of making tagine. I am opting for the Moroccan/Algerian style which features dried fruit.


My version of this enticing dish consists of chicken pieces braised with spices, garlic, onion, olives, dates and preserved lemons, all cooked with some olive oil, broth and a few surprise ingredients to elevate the dish.

Let’s get cooking!


Menu:

Moroccan Chicken Tangine & pita bread


Wine pairing:

2019 - San Antonio Abad “Delicioso“ - Tempranillo (Villacañas, Toledo, La Mancha, D.O. - Spain)


Serves 4


Ingredients

  • 1 teaspoon paprika

  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin

  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander

  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

  • 1 lemon

  • 5 cloves garlic, minced

  • 3 large chicken breasts (about 3-4 pounds total) cut in large chunks

  • Salt and ground black pepper

  • 3 tablespoons of Sicilian extra Virgin olive oil https://www.bestsicily.com/partanna-extra-virgin-olive-oil-1l-34-fl-oz/

  • 1 large yellow onion, halved and cut into 1/4-in-thick slices

  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

  • 1-3/4 cups chicken broth

  • 2 tablespoons honey

  • 2 large or 3 medium carrots, peeled and cut diagonally into 1/4 inch-thick pieces

  • 1/2 cup green olives, pitted and halved https://www.bestsicily.com/castelvetrano-green-olives-pitted-partanna-9-oz-260g/

  • 1/4 cup of whole dates, pitted (can also be halved)

  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves

Traditional side: bread. For this posting, oven-warmed pita bread was used.


Directions

Tagine:

  • Combine the spices in a small bowl and set aside. Zest the lemon. Combine 1 teaspoon of the lemon zest with 1 minced garlic clove; set aside.


  • Season both sides of chicken pieces with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a large heavy-bottomed Dutch oven or large cast iron pan over medium-high heat until beginning to smoke. Brown the chicken pieces in single layer until deep golden, about 4-5 minutes; using tongs, flip the chicken pieces over and brown the other side, about 4 minutes more. Transfer the chicken to a large plate.


  • Reduce the heat to medium. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until they have browned at the edges but retaining their shape, 5 to 7 minutes (add a few tablespoons of water if the pan gets too dark). Add the remaining minced garlic and cook, stirring, for about 30 seconds. Add the spices and flour and cook, stirring constantly, for another 30 seconds.

  • Stir in the broth, honey, remaining lemon zest, and 1/4 teaspoon salt, scraping the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon to loosen any browned bits. Add the chicken (with any accumulated juices) back in, reduce the heat to medium-low, cover and simmer for 10 minutes.


  • Add the carrots, cover, and simmer until the chicken is cooked through and the carrots are tender-crisp, about 10 minutes more.


  • Stir in the olives, dates, reserved lemon zest-garlic mixture, cilantro, and juice of half a lemon; taste the sauce and adjust seasoning with salt, pepper, and more lemon juice, if desired.


Bread:

  • Warm up pita bread to slightly soften.


Serve it up!

The best thing about this deliciously fragrant dish is that it can be served directly from the pan or pot, making it a captivating table centerpiece.


This dish goes quite well with couscous and even a delicate rice pilaf. For this particular serving, I opted for a traditional and simple side dish of warm pita bread, which worked quite nicely.

Bon appeti! Enjoy!


(Photo: Carlos Sarmiento)



(Photo: Carlos Sarmiento)



(Photo: Carlos Sarmiento)


About the wine...

Special thanks to my friends at VinAmericas for their wonderful contribution of this sweet, jammy and refreshing Tempranillo wine that paired beautifully with the tagine.


VINAMERICAS is a national fine wine import company headquartered in Miami with warehousing facilities in New Jersey, California, South Florida, and Europe (Spain).

Their ever-growing curated portfolio includes over 100 wines from 35 high-quality family wineries from Spain, France, Chile, Argentina and South Africa.

2019 - San Antonio Abad “Delicioso“ - Tempranillo (Villacañas, Toledo, La Mancha, D.O. - Spain)

(Photo: Carlos Sarmiento)


San Antonio Abad is a cooperative located in the province of Toledo, Castilla La Mancha with 450 members that together harvest over 2,000 hectares of vineyards.

San Antonio is one of the very few wineries in Spain (and the world) using the flash-détente technology, an expensive piece of equipment that yields fresh, fruit-forward wines by heating the grapes and then sending them to a vacuum chamber to be cooled.


This technology increases extraction from red grapes while minimizing bitter seed tannin and pyrazine (vegetal) odors

Grapes: 100% Tempranillo


Taste: Made in the northern part of La Mancha, in the province of Toledo using the revolutionary “flash-détente” technology.


Delicioso is a young, fruit-driven wine, offering bright red berry and raspberry aromas, deep, vibrant and lively flavors on the palate, well balanced and quite refreshing on the finish. An outstanding value from an up-and-coming region.


Food pairing: Pairs with grilled and braised meats.


For more information on this wine and VinAmericas, visit: https://www.vinamericas.com/product-page/delicioso-tempranillo

&

https://www.vinamericas.com


About the olive oil and olives...

Produced by the Asaro Brothers Company in Partanna, Sicily, this oil is a first cold-pressed, extra virgin olive oil, but it is also an early harvest (October), single-olive varietal (Nocellara del Belice), unfiltered oil.

When the tins are first opened, the oil is cloudy with a green hue, herbaceous aroma and pizzicante flavor. Pizzicante is an Italian phrase that describes the strong flavor that grips the back of your throat and is characteristic of most olive oils.


100% sustainably farmed in Castelvetrano, Sicily, grown on the Asaro Family Farms. The olives are hand-picked fresh, processed daily in brine within 4 hours of being picked and preserved with natural sea salt from Trapani.


They have a distinctive meaty, buttery flesh. Available in both whole and pitted.


Best as an aperitif before dinner, or to drop in a Martini, these Green Castelvetrano Olives are the perfect, most versatile olive in the world – and Asaro Farms has been growing and cultivating them for over a century!

www.asaro.com

https://www.bestsicily.com/shop/

Instagram: https://instagram.com/partannabrand?igshid=1ei2jp58un244

#partannalove

About Drips to Sips - Wine Drip Collars...

(Photo courtesy of Dripstosips.com)


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Special thanks to all my partners!

(Video: Milagros Rodezno)

(Photo: Patrick Hendry)



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