03 April 2010

Chicken-and-Apricot Tagine

Chicken-Apricot Tagine

I sometimes wish my life were a bit less pedestrian. What if I lived in Morocco? Wintered in Antibes? Summered in the Hebrides? What if the food I prepared in my little kitchen were inspired by something other than the thought "I think it might be fun to make a tagine today."

Two weeks ago, I had that thought. You can prepare a tagine in many vessels. But I wanted a real one. I imagined my kitchen redolent with the spices of Northern Africa while meat and vegetables or dried fruit simmered in a clay pot with a tee-pee-like cover.

And so today that was how it was. 

Usually around Easter my appetite demands spicier foods. This tagine recipe (from Epicurious) calls for turmeric and cinnamon and paprika, with saffron for a shot of brilliant color.

Saffron was not something I grew up with: Instead, I discovered it in a rice mix from a short-lived gourmet store in my hometown when I was in college (the first time, before my "gap" years). Only when I brought the mix home did my father tell me he always kept saffron on hand, but used it sparingly. 

Saffron, derived from the crocus, seems like the perfect spice for spring. It supposedly has great medicinal properties, is thought to be cancer suppressing, and - they say - can be an antidepressant.

It is grown in the Mediterranean, including in parts of the Quercy, in the southwest of France, and I have seen it for sale there, and in the markets. 

My tagine, which I slow cooked in my clay vessel, was passable for a first attempt. The chicken was tender, but not as moist as I expected, while the apricots melted in my mouth. I agree with some of the reviewers that the spices and garlic should be stepped up. I did not use cilantro this round, but I will try it again. 


18 comments:

Penny said...

Mimi, This tagine looks absolutely delicious, even without the cilantro. Saffron is one of those spices that I buy in small quantities because it is so expensive and so fragile. I usually use it in paella but your tangine is provocative. I am enjoying your new blog posts. Welcome back.

Mimi from French Kitchen said...

Thanks, Penny; I still have to reveal my kitchen one of these days.

Blondie's Journal said...

Your tagine sounds delicious!! I have never cooked with saffron. I knew it to be expensive because of where it grows and how it is harvested, and I was surprised to see it in my local grocery store the other day. I became inspired to make something with it! How ironic!

Wishing you a blessed and happy Easter, Mimi!

xoxo
Jane

Fiona said...

Mouth watering. Fabulous !!!
It has been a little while since I visited here, love the new look and the background image.

Mimi from French Kitchen said...

Jane, I have always wanted to make saffron buns to honor my husband's Cornish heritage. One of these days!

Fiona, it was pretty good. Not something I would go to the moon for, but tasty. Yes, it was time for a facelift. if only getting one myself would be so easy.

Pam said...

Well, it certainly looks fabulous!

Artist said...

The spice combination sounds just great.

Mimi from French Kitchen said...

Artist, I just took a peak at your site! I see things in a similar way - I am so excited - must return!

Christine said...

From your photos, your tagine turned out very nicely for a first try. It's easy once you get the hang of it, isn't it? And I love your addition of saffron - which I've used in holiday breads, but not in savory dishes. And I've only used my tagine the one time but you've inspired me to do it again. Especially with the return-to-winter weather we're having.
Happy Easter, Mimi!

Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) said...

I love cooking in my clay tagines, and there's nothing like that combination of meat and dried fruit, with warm spices, to transport you to the Mediterranean. One thing I do with chicken tagine recipes is to use boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite-size pieces, instead of whatever the recipe calls for. I find that the thighs hold up to low and slow cooking, and always come out melt-in-your-mouth tender.

Mimi from French Kitchen said...

Return to winter? Oh. no, Christine! I hope this does not bode ill for us. We are three weeks ahead of time.

I was supposed to use a whole chicken, Lydia, but I only eat breast meat, so I used breasts. Next time, I will follow the recipe.

Kalyn said...

How fun! I've never cooked any type of tagine but I'm intrigued by this type of food. I actually went to Morocco (for one day, on a cruise) and had some wonderful food there!

katiez said...

For some reason which shall remain a mystery, mon mari has decided I should start making tagines. He actually went looking for the clay pots the other day. Thanks for a yummy recipe - it will be my first!

Mimi from French Kitchen said...

Katie, it's a mystery as to why I thought I should start making them, too. I think we need to do a tagine day...

Alain said...

I love making tajin with preserved lemons and olives, but also with dried apricots. Yours looks pretty good. It inspires me to make one next week-end. It will put some sun in our poor Chicago rainy and rather cold souls after a few beautiful sunny days.
By the way Trader Joe's sells a very decent Spanish (the real one) safran for a ridiculous price.
It is so good to read you again on a more regular schedule.
Your writing about comforting things and your good spirits are actually very... comforting.
Welcome back.

Mimi from French Kitchen said...

Thanks, Alain, your comments mean a lot to me.

It has been a terribly rough winter here, not in terms of weather, but in many other ways. Family illness and other issues have really taken their toll on me and I really cherish my online friends all the more.

And I miss France. Wish we could go this year, but it looks unlikely.

Alisa said...

It looks really delicious.You've inspired me to try making this dish

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