Mock Tagine

I was just doing some site housekeeping and I noticed I didn’t have any recipe posts! That won’t do.

My go-to recipe is something I came up with by combining several Moroccan stew recipes. Calling it a “mock tagine” is a little too much, it’s more like inspired by. But it’s usually delicious, although there are times when it falls flat.

I’m doing this from memory but the whole thing is kind of improvisational.

Chicken, sweet potatoes, carrots, dried apricots, shallots, chicken broth, ground ginger, cinnamon, cumin, any other spices you want (tumeric, cayenne, allspice, bay, cloves are recommended).

Cut up chicken to stew-size pieces. I like bonelessskinless breast, but bonelss skinless thighs, and pieces like breasts, thighs etc., would work too,  just make sure the cooking time is long enough.

Make spice marinade: equal parts ground ginger and cinnamon, half as much cumin, and a quarter as much allspice, and a little tumeric.  If you have ras al hanout, by all means, use it. If you have garam masala, that would work too. Cardamom, I’ve never used because it’s so expensive, but some day I will. Add enough oil (I use canola but I’m a wimp) to make a fairly runny liquid-paste.

Coat the chicken and marinade a  half hour to an hour, how ever long it takes you to chop the veggies and take a break if you need one.

Cut up sweet potatoes, carrots, and  a couple of shallots. Chop a couple of dried apricots into tiny pieces, and then chop 2 per serving in half.

Brown the chicken.  I use canola oil, peanut would be great.  The marinade will toast up, don’t let it burn too much. I usually do 2 batches for 3-4 chicken breasts (which I call 6 servings).

Put the browned chicken aside on a plate and saute the shallots. I’m not a big fan of onion flavor so I use tiny shallots; they are essential for depth, but they don’t taste oniony. If you like onions, you can use onions and use more. 

I blot the oil from the pan. If there’s any really burned marinade (I use a non-stick pot so it isnt’ too bad) I remove that but I make sure to leave as much as possible as it will flavor the broth.

Add chicken broth and bring to close to a simmer.

Add the chicken and the apricots, both finely-chopped and halved. Add a little honey – I add about a quarter cup but I like it actually sweet, so probably a tablespoon or so would suit most people.  Simmer about a half hour, skimming at least twice, if you do three times that’s even better. The more you skim, the better.

Add the sweet potatoes, carrots, and apricots. Also add a couple of cloves and a bay leaf (assuming you like that).  If you add them so you can fish them out easily, so much the better. I usually find the bay leaf easily, then the clove ends up on my plate at some point in the next couple of days.

Simmer another 20 minutes or so. Now’s the time to adjust salt and honey. Keep in mind the potatoes and carrots will sweeten the mixture so take it easy on the honey.

If you plan to serve it all, make it 30 minutes, or until the sweet potatoes are tender. I like to make a big pot and then cool it down and leave it in the fridge and scoop out a couple of cups at a time, so I leave the potatoes a little undercooked.

As I make it, I reduce the broth with each batch and add it back to the original so it gets thicker and needs less reducing each time. By the time I’m done (usually 6 servings for just me) I have a nice thick spicy stew liquid and I freeze small amounts of any leftovers for making “quick stew” or just cooking sweet potatoes or whatever later on.

It takes me about 2 hours to make this, what with chopping up chicken and veggies and browning 2 batches and all.

I don’t serve it with a starch because it has sweet potatoes, but couscous would be traditional, and rice would work really well.

There isn’t much fat, just from the oil and the chicken, and there are lots of nutrients from the veggies. It’s very filling.

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