Citrus Chicken Tajine

Write an article about Tajine and suddenly you have make it. Francene cooked  this citrus chicken version and it was a delight.

Francene has a couple of Moroccan cookbooks and this recipe came from 150 best tagine recipes by Pat Crocker. (tajine / tagine both are acceptable)

Citrus Chicken Tagine – page 64

• Medium tagine

  • 1 piece (1 inch/2.5 cm) fresh ginger root
  • 1 piece (1 inch/2.5 cm) fresh turmeric or 1 tbsp (15 mL) ground turmeric
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2 tbsp avocado or olive oil
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 piece (2 inches/5 cm) cinnamon stick, 1 crushed fine
  • 1 tbsp cumin seeds
  • 4 bone-in chicken pieces with skin (about 1 1/2 lbs/750 g)
  • 1 orange, sectioned
  • 1/2 cup whole dates
  • 1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice or orange flower water
  • 2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp Pomegranate Molasses or store-bought or liquid honey
  • 1/4 cup blanched almonds

1. In a mortar (using a pestle), smash ginger, turmeric and garlic. Pound and grind until a paste is achieved. Or, using a small food processor, blend ginger, turmeric and garlic into a paste.

2. In the bottom of a flameproof tagine, heat oil and melt butter over medium heat. Add spice paste, cinnamon and cumin and cook, stirring frequently, for 3 to 5 minutes or until paste is lightly colored. Add chicken and toss to coat in the spices. Cook, turning frequently, for about 7 minutes or until chicken is browned on both sides.

3. Using tongs, turn chicken so that the skin is up. Tuck orange sections and dates around chicken. Stir in orange juice, lemon juice and molasses and bring to a boil. Cover with tagine lid, reduce heat to low and simmer for 30 to 40 minutes or until chicken juices run clear for thighs and is no longer pink inside for breasts. Garnish with almonds.

A very easy recipe to follow and the kitchen aromas are just wonderful.

We had a six pack of chicken legs in the freezer and used them. On hindsight, I would not use legs, maybe bone in thighs or breasts cut into thirds. This isn’t finger food unless you enjoy yellow cuticles for a week. The turmeric will color and stain very easily.

We served the chicken tagine with a side of zucchini and a delightful tomato and cucumber salad.

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The mighty Tajine

I wrote a short piece on comfort food. Then I kept re reading it and re writing it & then trashed it. It just rambled on about what I think comfort food is. I think I realized it was more important to cook it than analyze it.

My short definition would be that comfort food be filling and simple, and to me it’s a one pot dish.

The pot often defines what will be cooked and the Tajine is a reflection of a region and style of cooking. The Tajine is a Moroccan cooking vessel. I can’t think of a Tajine without thinking of Moroccan dishes, curried chicken & lamb stews.

Francene and I are fortunate to have several Asian style markets in the area so when we shop for something like curry, we have more styles to select from than most markets have Mexican hot sauces. With so much variety to stir the imagination, we just have to experiment; both with flavors as well as technique.

A wonderful lamb tajine from Antony Worrall Thompson, on the bbc.com website.

In a world of instant cookers, rice cookers, pressure cookers and cast-iron enameled ware there is also that funny looking Tajine. In a world full of the above-mentioned cookers, why in the world would you want to use a Tajine?

Because it is versatile, a Tajine in the right hands can replace all those newly hyped cookers.

Saffron Chicken Tajine from ANDREW ZIMMERN July 2017 , Food & Wine Photo credit John Kernick

The basic Tajine is a clay pot and lid that has been enameled and fired. You should never use it over a high flame as it would crack and break. Since the Tajine style of cooking works so well, you can now get them in enameled cast iron from makers such as Staub and Le Creuset, and stainless steel from Cooks Standard.

It’s the funny looking lid that is the secret to Tajine cooking. The high peaked sides are for the steam and condensation to rise to the top and the inverted cupped top drips the moisture back into the center of your dish. Think of this as a non stop basting process.

We decided to go modern and get the stainless steel with ceramic lid and could not be happier. The stainless bottom is attractive enough to serve from and most of our cookware be it in cabinets, pantry or garage, we buy to cook with not set on display.

 

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Wonderful Curry from Jamaica

The weather is getting cooler, and comfort food is most definitely on the horizon. Business also slows down this time of the year and I find I have more time on my hands then I care for.  I also find it difficult to cook for two, as I had too many years of cooking for a family. I am not one for leftovers, so the portions get bigger and bigger. So what can we do to keep fall and winter from becoming blimp season? Cook? Yes, cook. But let’s start by getting a bit more creative. You may wonder how being creative helps to keep the portions under control. Well, I may not like it so I really don’t want a week’s worth in the refrigerator.So, how about if we make something that onlytakesminutes to prepare. Now back to cooler weather and comfort food. I wanted Shrimp Curry, really what I wanted is the shrimp curry my father made in the 50’s and 60’s that seemed so worldly to a young boy. Yellow curry, that stuff from the spice isle.  On second thought, I can do better than that. Okay, lets make Shrimp Curry, but kick it up a notch. Most curry dishes are a breeze to make, really nothing to them and can be made in the time it takes to cook the rice. So how are we going to kick it up? Lets start by deciding what part of the world we are going to be dining, that will tell us more about our curry mix, How about Jamaica? Okay, that means a curry with a bite to it.
If you want really good curry, never go to the spice isle for a bottle of Shillings or McCormick’s curry. Get your Masala box out and start mixing, after all, all kitchens have a Masala box, don’t they? For those that are shaking their heads, wondering just what am I talking about.  Indian cooks have a spice box; this is either a large metal tin or carved wooded box filled with more tins or boxes filled with the individual spices used to build curries or masalas.
Curry is not a spice, but a blend of spices. We think of curry as being from India but native curry dishes can be found through the Caribbean, African coast, India and just about where ever ancient travelers and tradesmen ventured to in centuries gone by. At one time it was spice that was the universal currency, not gold and baubles. Well, maybe some silk as well. Back to dinner, there was shrimp in the freezer, some jasmine rice in the pantry and a door full of spices. A little later, after cruising the Internet I came up with a Jamaican Curry recipe that sounded good, all I was missing was some Fenugreek seeds. Darn, how could I not have had Fenugreek on hand, I’m sure you do. So my recipe from the net looked good, made it, and then started adjusting the spices till I got what appealed to me.
  • 2 teaspoons dry yellow mustard seeds
  • 3 teaspoons ground fenugreek seeds
  • 2 tablespoons ground turmeric
  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander seeds
  • 1 Tablespoon cumin seeds
  • 2 teaspoons All spice
  • 1/2 teaspoon mace
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons white pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon clove
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon  cayenne pepper
Combine all and grind in your spare coffee grinder. Yum. And its more than the 2 1/2 tablespoons I will be using. Now another spice tin, this one labeled Jamaican Curry, home made. Now for the dish itself.
  • 1 1/2 pound cleaned, shelled large shrimp
  • 1 can of coconut milk
  • 1 small onion finely diced
  • 2 tablespoons of tomato paste
  • 1 small red bell pepper finely diced
  • 2 tablespoons of your home made curry powder.
  • 2 to 3 cloves garlic finely diced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
Heat olive oil and add onions and garlic along with the curry powder.  Saute till the onion and garlic are translucent and have lost most of the water. Add the coconut milk, tomato paste and simmer mixture for 5 to 7 minutes, add stock or water till you have the liquid consistency desired. I prefer a thicker sauce if serving with rice, thinner is for when eating a soup or stew. Now add the shrimp and red bell pepper, and cook at a simmer another 5 minutes or until the shrimp is as you prefer, and do a quick final seasoning. I never mentioned salt as I don’t think this dish needs any salt added to it.
Serve over rice, or add rice on top. Both ways taste the same, just a different presentation, Enjoy. I would pair this dish with a nice beer or light ale.  
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Canning Apple Sauce with an Indian Flair

We do applesauce every year and we love East Indian cuisine.

I’m not going to tell you how peal and core an apple, or how to cook it or do the canning. What I am going to suggest is that you try replacing your own spice mix with a little Garam Masala.

This Indian spice mix is regional and chef specif. Different brands will be just that, different.

I like to buy bulk spices and this give you the opportunity to smell what is being offered. Garam masala generally is a mix of, or will include coriander, cumin, cardamom, cloves, black pepper, cinnamon, and nutmeg. In other variations on garam masala, ingredients may include turmeric, saffron, fennel seeds, ginger, garlic, mustard seeds, mace, star anise, tamarind, fenugreek, bay leaves or Malabar leaves.

The mix is wonderful and we found makes the applesauce a welcome side. Try adding a little and taste. Keep adding until a big smile appears on your face.

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