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Serves 6

This North African staple is traditionally prepared in a clay pot that’s handily replaced by the slow cooker, with its ability to marry flavors and soften meat into fall-off-the-bone velvetiness. On a chilly fall night, not much can beat this recipe for pure soul-warming satisfaction. I like to serve it with toasted pita bread, sliced preserved lemons to cut through the richness, and a bowl of harissa (homemade or store-bought) so everyone can adjust the spice level to taste.

2tablespoons olive oil
2large onions, chopped
4garlic cloves, chopped fine
2cups chicken stock
2tablespoons flour
3tablespoons honey
2tablespoons tomato paste
1pinch saffron
1teaspoon coriander
1teaspoon cinnamon
1teaspoon cumin
1teaspoon cayenne pepper
1piece fresh ginger root (1 inch), chopped fine
Salt and pepper, to taste
2cans (14 ounces) chopped tomatoes
6boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into large, uniform pieces
2cans (14 ounces) chickpeas
6ounces dried apricots
2carrots, peeled and diced
2tablespoons butter
1cup instant couscous
Chopped fresh cilantro (for garnish)

1. In a large skillet over medium heat, heat the olive oil. Add the onions and cook, stirring often, for 5 to 7 minutes or until the onions soften. Add the garlic and cook 1 minute more. Add 1 cup of the chicken stock, then gradually add in the flour, stirring constantly, until well mixed and not lumpy.

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2. Add honey and tomato paste and stir well. Add saffron, coriander, cinnamon, cumin, cayenne, ginger, salt, and pepper. Finally, add tomatoes and stir well.

3. Transfer the tomato mixture to the slow cooker. Add the chicken and chickpeas and stir well. Add the apricots and carrots, stirring to make sure the ingredients are evenly distributed.

4. Turn the slow cooker to high and cook for 3 to 4 hours or until the chicken is tender (alternately, up to 7 hours on the “warm” setting also works well).

5. In a saucepan over medium heat, add the remaining 1 cup chicken stock and the butter and heat until just boiling. Remove from the heat, add the couscous, and cover. Let sit for 10 minutes, then fluff with a fork. Serve the tagine over the couscous, sprinkled with cilantro.


Alexandra Hall can be reached at alexandrahal@gmail.com. Follow her on Twitter @AlexHallEditor.