Tagine with Chicken, Almond and Scallion Couscous…

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This is an adaptation of an Antony Warroll Thompson recipe. Although his chubby little face and extremely nasal voice may really annoy me; I cannot deny that this indeed an awesome recipe. His original Lamb Tagine does, however, take a whopping three-plus hours of cooking in an oven-proof clay saucepan (otherwise known as a Tagine or Tajine); preceded by an overnight marinading of the meat. If you don’t have the time (or equipment) for such an endeavor, then this recipe will provide a suitable yet speedy oven-top homage in probably an hour or less.

If marinading meat; overnight is always best, but anything upwards of an hour will give the meat some flavor. This can also make an awesome pescetarian or vegetarian dish; see the end for some alternative recipe ideas.

Ingredients for four people:

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(If making a vegetarian version; use quantities in brackets)

  • 1 tbsp ground ginger (3/4 tbsp)
  • 1/4 tsp salt (1/4 tsp)
  • 1 heaped tsp freshly cracked black pepper (1 tsp)
  • 1 heaped tsp ground cinnamon (1 tsp)
  • 1 3/4 tsp tumeric (1 1/2 tsp)
  • 1 tbsp paprika (3/4 tbsp)
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (1/3 tsp)
  • 8 chicken legs or thighs
  • 8 cloves garlic (4 cloves)
  • 1 large diced onion
  • 1/2 cup of flaked almonds
  • 1 tbsp of honey
  • 1/2 tsp of saffron soaked in a little cold water.
  • 1 large tin of crushed tomato
  • 1 cup chicken stock (veggie stock)
  • 1 punnet of cherry tomatoes, chopped.
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • Handful of fresh coriander / cilantro , roughly chopped.
  • 3 or 4 cups couscous, depending upon hunger level.
  • 1 bunch scallions, roughly chopped.
  • 1/2 chicken stock cub, crumbled.
  • Boiling water
  • Salt and pepper

 

Directions:

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Combine all of the dried spices. If using meat; use 1/4 of the mixture, 4 crushed garlic cloves and a good lug of olive oil as a marinade, reserving the remaining 3/4 of the mixture for the sauce. After the meat has had a chance to marinade for at least an hour preheat the oven to 375F.

Heat a large saucepan with olive oil and gently sweat the onions and remaining garlic for ten minutes, or until translucent. Now add the remaining dry spices and coat the onion and garlic. Continue to cook for a couple of minutes, stirring constantly to avoid anything catching on the bottom of the pan. If this does happen just add a little water to loosen things up again.

Now add the almonds (you may want to keep some as a garnish), honey, saffron (plus water), crushed tomatoes, stock and cherry tomatoes to the pan. Reduce the heat and gently simmer for 45 minutes or so, stirring occasionally.

Lightly grease a casserole dish with a little olive oil and add the chicken and any leftover marinade. Cook in the oven for 40-45 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 180F.

10 minutes before the chicken is ready; pour the couscous into a large bowl, add the crumbled stock and cover with boiling water, but no more than 1/4″over the top of the couscous. Cover with a clean dish towel and allow to sit for 5 minutes. In the meantime roughly chop the scallions. Separate the couscous with a fork, add the scallions (reserving some for garnish) and season to taste.

 

Remove the cooked chicken from the oven. Spoon the couscous onto a plate (if you wanted to be fancy you could “shape” couscous like you would a sand castle) and then lay the chicken over the top. Spoon over a healthy serving of the Tagine sauce and garnish with the reserved scallions and almonds.

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Alternative ideas:

Something fishy

Pan-fry white fish fillets, such as cod, for 3 or 4 minutes each side (allowing an hour to marinade before) as a replacement to the chicken.

Something veggie

Add a couple of cans of chickpeas (or any other beans) and some soaked apricots to the sauce at the end as a beautiful vegetarian alternative.

Something meaty

If you’re feeling adventurous try the original lamb recipe here.

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