A tagine should be cooked low and slow. Don’t worry if you don’t have an authentic tagine, it cooks just as successfully in a heavy-bottomed casserole. To get a deep full flavour it’s important to cook the onions until soft before adding any other ingredients. Similarly you need to fry the dry spices for a few minutes before adding any liquid otherwise they will taste harsh and slightly bitter.
The chicken pieces should be cooked on the bone; this keeps the meat moist and tender, adding depth and flavour to the sauce. Use fresh chicken stock if you can, if not then water is fine. Avoid using stock cubes. Add the fresh herbs and preserved lemon at the last minute as they don’t need to be cooked. Their job is just to highlight the wonderful deep flavours that have been developing under that lid.
Chicken Tagine with Purple Olives
Preparation time 30 minutes Cooking time 45 minutes
1 large free range chicken –jointed on the bone
1 red onion – finely diced
1 inch ginger – finely diced
3 cloves garlic – chopped
1 red chilli – diced
1 pinch each ground cumin & cardamom
2 pinch saffron threads
1 bay leaf & 1 sprig thyme
1 small cinnamon stick
250 ml chicken stock or water
20 purple olives
½ preserved lemon– finely sliced
Chopped coriander & flat leaf parsley to taste
- Heat a little oil in a frying pan. Season & sauté the chicken until golden. Set aside.
- Heat a heavy-bottomed pot over a low heat & gently cook the onion (with a generous pinch of salt) in olive oil until soft. Add the garlic, ginger & chilli & cook for 2 minutes.
- Add the spices and gently fry for 2 minutes.
- Add the chicken, cinnamon, bay leaf, thyme, olives & stock.
- Cover with a tight fitting lid. Simmer gently for 45 minutes.
Remove from the heat, adjust seasoning & stir in the fresh herbs & preserved lemon.