Date Archives August 2020

Chicken Tagine…

….with apricots, cinnamon and chickpeas! These are all the classic flavours I conjure up when I think of a chicken tagine. The weather promised rain and high winds so it felt suitable. Sadly the rain didn’t come but we still feasted after busy days.

Those dried apricots soak up the juices like mini cinnamon infused orange sponges and the chicken meat slides from the bone like butter from a knife. Feel free to de-bone the thighs but this is the one recipe where I tend not to given how tender they become with slow, moist cooking. I recommend using some good quality chickpeas only as they will be roasting for a while. The cheap supermarket brands will do nothing but disappear. Spend the extra 40 pence people!

It really is an easy assembly job once you get that pan on the hob and into the oven but one that will impress guests and leave you hosting and not bound to the kitchen. Or it’ll simply satisfy your fiancee at the end of a long Tuesday as ours did here.

Serves 3 (big portions or 4 smaller)

  • 6-8 chicken thighs (skin on). I usually serve 2 per person but use 1 if serving smaller portions
  • 1 large white onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 tsp each ground cumin, coriander
  • 2 tbsp Ras el hanout
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 tin chickpeas, drained. I use these Napolina chickpeas as they are by far the best. It makes a difference from own brand retailers.
  • 1 can chopped tomatoes
  • 500ml chicken stock
  • 80g dried apricots, halved
  • Handful coriander, chopped
  • Handful flaked, roasted almonds
  1. Preheat the oven to 190. Get yourself a fairly shallow casserole dish. Ideally you want all chicken in one layer so nothing is submerged so have this in mind.
  2. Heat your casserole dish with a tsp of olive/sunflower oil (NO Extra Virgin oil – I must stress, do not ever heat/cook with this. It’s for dressings only). Season the chicken well on both sides and on a high heat, skin side down, cook in the pan until beginning to crisp. Turn over onto the flesh side for a minute then remove all chicken pieces to a plate. You should be left with some oil and juices – use it!
  3. Turn the heat down to medium low and add the onion to the same pan. Sweat for about 5 minutes until beginning to soften. Add the garlic and cook for a few more minutes. Season well as you go.
  4. Add the ground spices and stir to combine for 1 minute or so.
  5. Add the chickpeas, tomatoes, cinnamon stick and apricots and stir.
  6. Add enough of the stock so you have a nice thick sauce but not so its really thin. You can adjust by cooking any excess liquid off at the end but you don’t want the chicken to drown!
  7. Stir to combine and check the seasoning.
  8. Return the chicken to the pan and place each thigh skin side up into the dish. You don’t want to submerge the chicken skin or it won’t crisp up in the oven. Skin should be exposed on top.
  9. Cook for about 1 hour checking to make sure it hasn’t dried out of liquid (top up with hot water/stock if needed) and to check the skin is crisping up! Turn up the heat if it isn’t. After 80 minutes or so it should be nicely thick with crispy skin. Remove from the oven and let it rest and cool slightly.
  10. Scatter with the coriander and the sliced almonds.
  11. Serve with fluffy cous cous if you wish with a squeeze of lemon!