Chicken tagine

My definition of good food is that it makes you want to roll around on the floor shouting mammmmmmmma! This chicken tagine recipe will make you want to roll around on the floor and shout grannnndmaaaaaaaaa! But this is NOT that bland and boiled grandma meal made from food that is two steps away from dying itself.

Enlivened with cinnamon and other warming spices, this chicken will embrace your heart in a way that will link you directly to the ubiquitous superhero grandma that we all know and feel, even if yours is buried ten feet underground. The grandma that loves you unconditionally even when you fail a test or hit your brother. The grandma that has a piece of candy in her purse for you at temple just when you thought you would die of boredom and starvation. The grandma that pinches your cheeks and tells you how beautiful you are even when those cheeks are covered in atrocious pimples. The
grandma whose joy in life is you. Grandma equals love. And so does this chicken.

Remember, love can be tasted, so pour your heart in when you cook.

Serves 3-5 people (this recipe can easily be doubled)

Ingredients

5 chicken thighs*, bone in, organic if possible
1 large onion, chopped
Extra virge olive oil–about 3 tablespoons
1 whole clove or a good pinch of ground cloves
2 teaspoons cinnamon
? teaspoon cumin
? teaspoon tumeric
? teaspoon ginger
½ cup dried apricots (sulfur-free, Turkish apricots if possible)
½ cup pitted prunes
1 teaspoon salt
ground pepper
½ cup chicken or vegetable broth, preferably homemade

*If you prefer to use some white meat, have the butcher cut breasts in half to have smaller pieces. Add more liquid to the pot, about another ½ cup.

Method

Preheat oven to 400 F. Place a tagine, dutch oven or heavy cooking pot that can go both on the stove and in the oven over a medium flame. Pour in enough olive oil to coat the bottom of the pan. Add spices to olive oil and let cook for about a minute, but not much more or you can risk burning spices.

Places the chicken pieces in, skin side down, and cook for a few minutes on each side. (You are trying to brown the chicken which is good for flavor and appearance. The cinnamon and other spices to do some of that for you.) Remove the chicken temporarily to a plate. Add the onion and saute for about 5 minutes. Return the chicken to the pot, skin side up and add the dried fruit. Sprinkle salt. Pour in water or broth. Use a wooden spoon or tongs to cover the chicken a little bit with the onions and fruit. Cover the tagine or dutch oven and place in oven for 1 hour.

Do a little dance, take a little nap, call someone and tell them that you love them. This chicken is worth the slow-cooking. Remove chicken from oven and place again over medium flame. Uncover. Use your wooden spoon to smash the fruit a bit so it becomes part of the sauce. (You may want to remove the chicken as you do this, partcularly if you have decided to use some white meat.) Allow to cook until juices thicken. Return chicken to sauce and keep over low flame or in oven at 250 F until ready to serve.

Elana Horwich teaches cooking classes in Beverly Hills, CA. For more information and a link to her blog, go to mealandaspiel.com. These recipes are printed with the permission of the Jewish Journal. Image courtesy of Elana Horwich.