A tajine or tagine is a North African clay cooking vessel. It can also refer to the type of dish you cook in a tajine. (Think casserole. It refers to both the type of dish you are cooking and the style of the cooking dish you are using. "I'm baking a casserole in a casserole.") The concept behind both the clay vessel and the recipe is to produce a slowly braised dish cooked at low temperature. The design of the tajine collects all of the moisture under the lid allowing it to drip back down on the food for moist and tender meat and vegetables. Any kind of stewing recipes are good candidates for a tajine, and a recipe for a tajine dish can easily be cooked in a Dutch oven or clay cooker.
Over the years this recipe has evolved from the original one in the cookbook, Mediterranean Flavors, by Nick Stellino. Nick had a cooking show on PBS where he shared his passion for delicious, yet achievable dishes. The blend of spices called for in the original recipe is replaced by The Epicentre’s Moroccan Blend (ras al hanout).
Serves 4 - 6
- 1 chicken, cut up, or 3-4 lbs chicken pieces
- ¼ tsp salt
- ½ tsp pepper
- 1½ Tbsp Moroccan Blend
- 3 Tbsp flour
- 3 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 4 garlic cloves, thickly sliced
- 1 cup total olives and/or preserved lemons (use any combination of the following: pitted green olives, halved; Kalamata or Greek olives, pitted and halved; preserved lemons, quartered or thickly sliced)
- ½ cup white wine
- 1½ cup chicken stock
- ⅛ tsp saffron or turmeric
- 3 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
- 3 - 4 Tbsp lemon juice, to taste
Combine salt, pepper, Moroccan Blend and flour. Coat chicken with mixture as evenly as possible, shaking any excess off and reserving.
Heat olive oil in a large tall sided sauté pan over high heat. Add chicken pieces and brown on all sides until evenly golden brown. Remove chicken and set aside under a tent of foil. Turn heat down to medium-high and add onion. Cook for 2-3 minutes, then add garlic, olives/lemon, reserved flour mixture, and continue to cook for another 2 mins, stirring frequently. Stir in wine, chicken stock, and saffron/turmeric and bring to a boil, cooking for 5-10 minutes to reduce liquid by half. Add chicken pieces back into the pan, cover and reduce heat to low for 15-20 minutes until chicken is cooked through. Stir in parsley and lemon juice just before finishing. Check seasonings and adjust salt and lemon if necessary (tip: salt and lemon counteract each other so add each a little at a time).
Place chicken pieces on a platter and spoon sauce over top. Serve with steamed broccoli or green beans, along with rice, couscous, or Greek Potatoes.