Serves: Makes 6 servings
- 1⁄4 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 2 teaspoons ground ginger
- 11⁄2 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 3 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, each cut into thirds
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 large yellow onion, chopped
- 1 large red bell pepper, cored, seeded, and chopped
- 6 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped shallot
- 1 cup chicken stock or top-quality chicken broth
- 1⁄4 teaspoon saffron threads
- 5 sprigs fresh flat-leaf parsley
- 5 sprigs fresh cilantro
- 2 ⅓ cups water
- 1 cup dried apricots, each halved
- 1⁄4 cup honey
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 2 cups couscous
- 3⁄4 cup toasted blanched whole almonds
Procedures:This tagine is an ideal example of Morocco’s vibrant cuisine: chicken braised with warm spices, dried apricots, honey, and vegetables in a stew of incomparable fragrance and flavor. I prefer to use chicken thigh meat; the darker meat stays moist and tender when simmered. You can use chicken breast pieces if you prefer, but avoid overcooking.
Stir together the flour, cinnamon, ginger, salt, cumin, turmeric, and pepper in a large bowl. In batches, add the chicken and toss well to evenly coat.
Heat the oil and butter in a deep sauté pan over medium heat. Working in batches, brown the chicken pieces for a few minutes on each side and transfer to a plate. Set aside.
Add the onion, bell pepper, garlic, and shallot to the pan and cook for 3 to 5 minutes, until just beginning to soften. Return the chicken to the pan with the chicken stock and saffron. Tie together the parsley and cilantro sprigs with kitchen string and add to the pan. Cover and cook over medium-low heat for about 30 minutes, until the chicken is tender and cooked through. (The liquids should simmer gently, not boil; decrease the heat if needed.)
While the chicken is cooking, combine 1 cup of the water with the apricots, honey, and cinnamon sticks in a small saucepan. Bring just to a boil over medium-high heat. Decrease the heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 25 minutes, or until the apricots are plump and the liquid is reduced to a thick glaze.
Add the apricot mixture to the chicken and continue simmering for 10 minutes. Check for seasoning, adding more salt or pepper to taste. Discard the cinnamon sticks and herb bundle.
Place the couscous in a medium heatproof bowl. Bring the remaining 11⁄3 cups water to a boil, pour over the couscous, and stir to mix. Cover the bowl with foil to seal securely and set aside for 5 minutes. Fluff the couscous with a fork and spoon it onto individual plates. Top the couscous with the chicken mixture. Scatter the almonds over and serve.