Let's talk about this tagine for a second: it's crazy good. The dish has so much going on—the fragrant and heavily-spiced sauce, the jammy apricots, the crunchy almonds—and yet it totally works. There's good reason why this Moroccan dish is a classic.
Tagine is the name for both the North African dish and the vessel in which it's prepared. The idea is very similar to Western-style braising in Dutch ovens: combine ingredients, cover, and cook over low heat until tender and tasty. The tagine traps steam, creating a very moist cooking environment with even heat.
If you don't own a tagine, don't fret. You can use a Dutch oven, as I do, or any other heavy cooking pot with a tight-fitting lid. Cook's Illustrated has performed various cooking tests and confirmed that, although the conical tagine makes a particularly striking table presentation, stews cooked in other cooking pots tasted equally delicious.
This is not a quick weeknight meal, by any means, but it is most certainly a lazy "make your house smell amazing" weekend kind of meal. It also makes terrific leftovers, so even if you aren't throwing a dinner party or making Sunday dinner for your family, it's worth making this for the meals it will give you all week long.
Chicken Tagine with Apricots, Almonds & Chickpeas
Serves 6 to 8
Olive oil 3 pounds chicken legs and thighs (about 4 each) 1 yellow onion, diced 1 carrot, peeled and diced 2 cloves garlic, minced 1-inch piece ginger root, peeled and minced 1 teaspoon coriander 1 teaspoon cumin 1 teaspoon cinnamon 1 cup chicken stock 1 cup dried couscous 1/2 cup dried apricots, roughly chopped 1 tablespoon honey 1/4 cup almonds, roughly chopped 2 cups (1 15-oz can) chickpeas, drained and rinsed 2 tablespoons cilantro, optional, for serving
Warm one tablespoon of oil in a large Dutch oven (at least 5 1/2-quarts) or tagine over medium-high heat until the oil flows easily and you can see it shimmering. Sprinkle the chicken pieces with salt and pepper, and place as many as will fit into the pan without crowding. Sear for 5 to 8 minutes, flipping once, until both sides are golden brown. Remove to a clean plate and continue searing the rest of the chicken pieces. If necessary, add more oil to keep a thin film on the bottom of the pan. If the oil starts smoking, turn down the heat.
Pour off all but a teaspoon of oil and return the pan to medium heat. Sauté the onions and carrots with a half teaspoon of salt until softened and beginning to brown, about 10 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Sprinkle the ginger and spices over top and cook until fragrant, another minute.
Stir the chicken stock and apricots into the pan, scraping up any seared bits that might be stuck to the bottom of the pan. Nestle the chicken pieces into the pan; try to fit them in a single layer, but it's ok if some pieces overlap.
Bring the liquid to a boil, then reduce the heat to low. Cover the pan and cook for 50-60 minutes. The tagine is ready when the chicken registers 165° on an instant-read thermometer in the thickest part of the meat and when its juices run clear.
Transfer the cooked chicken to a clean plate and tent with foil. Add the honey, almonds, and chickpeas to the pan with the apricots and onions, and increase the heat to medium-high. Bring the stew to a rapid simmer and cook until it has thickened slightly. Taste the sauce and add salt if necessary.
To serve, spread the cooked couscous on a serving platter and arrange the chicken pieces on top. Ladle the stew over top, making sure the chicken pieces each get a good coating. Sprinkle with cilantro and serve.
Leftover chicken tagine will keep refrigerated for up to a week.
• Tagine in the Oven: Prepare the tagine as directed, but instead of simmering on the stovetop, transfer the covered cooking pot to a 300° oven. Cooking time may be slightly longer. Finish on the stovetop as directed.
• Tagine in the Slow-Cooker: Transfer the seared chicken directly to a slow cooker. Prepare the onion and spice mixture on the stovetop as directed, including mixing in the broth and apricots. Pour the onion mixture over the chicken, cover, and cook for 4-6 hours on HIGH. Finish on the stovetop as directed.