What this is not: an authentic Moroccan tagine, cooked in a clay vessel procured from a three-month, Sheltering Sky-style quest to find myself.
What this is: a fast, healthy weeknight meal evoking traditional North African flavors, but accessible enough to please my ultra-picky sister, who subsists primarily on tuna sandwiches and Diet Coke.
Another winner from Cook's Illustrated Best 30-Minute Recipe (which, Imma let you finish, but is one of the greatest cookbooks of all time), Chicken Tagine features chickpeas and chicken thighs as its primary proteins. Though slightly higher in fat than chicken breasts, skinless thighs make up for it by being smaller but. They are juicier, more flavorful, and way harder to overcook.
The recipe derives a lot of its deep, warm notes from garam masala, a spice mix common to Indian cuisine. If you don't have it handy, Chris Kimball suggests you combine one teaspoon each of cinnamon, cumin, coriander, and cardamom, along with a pinch of ground cloves. It's close enough, and receives extra points for its delectable fragrance, which, if bottled, would make approximately 40 bajillion dollars in its first week of sales.
So there you have it, folks: a dish that it what it is, but actually offers much more.
- 4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 2 teaspoons garam masala
- 4 cloves garlic
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
- 1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 1 (15-ounce) can diced tomatoes
- 1/2 cup (about 8) dried apricots, quartered
- 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
Season both sides of each chicken thigh with salt and pepper. Spread in single layer in an 8x8 microwaveable dish (Pyrex is great) and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Microwave on 50% power for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, in Dutch oven or large saucepan, heat vegetable oil over medium-high heat. Add onion, garam masala, and 1/4 teaspoon salt and sauté until onion slightly softened, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, another 30 seconds. Add flour, stir to coat, and cook 1 minute, or until slightly browned.
Slowly pour in chicken broth, scraping browned bits off bottom of pot. Add chickpeas, tomatoes, and apricots. Bring to rolling simmer and cook about 5 minutes.
Carefully remove chicken from microwave, taking special care when stripping off the plastic wrap to avoid steam. Place thighs in pot, along with any juices accumulated in naking dish.
Cover and simmer about 10 minutes, until chicken is fully cooked. Remove from heat and stir in cilantro. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve over couscous, with a ladle for lots of sauce (which the couscous will soak up), and a slotted spoon for less sauce.