Despite the title, this recipe does not call for a Tajine dish, nor any particular knowledge of Moroccan cuisine for that matter, although in my case, I know a little about North African cuisine from my mother’s side of the family who comes from Algeria. This recipe is pretty special to me because, although we never ate Tajine in my family, we did eat a lot of Couscous. My grandmother’s couscous recipe is really something, and the idea of passing on this dish when I go to visit this Summer because I stear clear of gluten and grains is a little heart-breaking. I might make an exception just for it, because it’s THAT good.
While nothing can replace couscous, this dish still gets my taste buds all happy and excited. The chicken is juicy and tender from cooking in the broth and vegetables (as well as from brining prior to cooking, see more on brining poultry, meat and fish here), the carrots, apricots and raisins give it a subtle sweetness, and there’s nothing like eating dried fruit and olives that have simmered and swollen in a stew. You can serve this with cauliflower rice which has a similar texture as couscous meal and will absorb well the juice from the stew, or with sauteed zucchini and bell peppers to keep within the Mediterranean theme.
2.2 lbs (1 kg) of bone-on, skin-on chicken thighs and drumsticks
1 large onion
1 green bell pepper
1/3 cup (60g) green olives
1/4 cup (40g) raisins
1/4 cup (50g) dried apricots
1 and 3/4 cup (410ml) of organic chicken or vegetable stock
2 + 1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp zaathar
1 tsp ground cumin
1/3 tsp coriander seeds
2 cloves of garlic
Pinch of cinnamon powder
Salt and pepper to taste
1. Brine the chicken in 6 cups of water and 6 tablespoons of salt (plus your choice of seasonings, optional) for 3 hours. Rinse well and pat dry. (This is optional, depending on your timetable, but it will help you render a more tender and juicier chicken)
2. Prepare the seasoning: In a mortar (or using a magic bullet), mash together the zaathar, cumin, coriander seeds, minced garlic, cinnamon and 1 tbsp of olive oil until they form a fragrant paste. Set aside.
3. In a large non-stick skillet, lightly sear the chicken pieces for 3 minutes skin-side down until golden, without moving them. Remove from heat.
3. In a large pot on medium heat, cook the onion in 2 tbsp of olive oil for 5 minutes until translucent. Add the bell pepper and carrot and let cook for 5 more minutes, stirring occasionally.
4. Add the chicken pieces, raisins, olives, dried apricots and the prepared seasoning to the pot and stir around for a few minutes to coat and release the flavors.
5. Pour in the broth, bring the heat down to low and let simmer for 20 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste and serve.