Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Weeknight Trip to Morocco

We're big tagine fans here at our house, but so many of the recipes are so complex and time-consuming. We've been adapting cooking magazine and cookbook recipes for years to make them easier, but this past fall we finally created our own, easy, weeknight recipe, blending our favorites from a multitude of recipes.

The first thing you want to do after reading this recipe is go make some preserved lemons. It's super simple and I've provided a recipe. You'll need to make these and let them sit for at least a few weeks before making the tagine. (Note: you CAN make this tasty tagine without it, but it definitely adds flavor to the herbed couscous.) Plus, you'll want to have the preserved lemons to make the lemon hummus we'll post next time.

Preserved Lemons (recipe from Joanne Weir)
4 lemons, scrubbed
¼ cup kosher salt
2 bay leaves
Fresh lemon juice as needed

Make Preserved Lemons:
Cut each lemon into quarters from the top to within 1/2 inch of the bottom, taking care to leave the 4 pieces joined at the stem end. Sprinkle the insides of the lemon with some of the salt.

Place 1/2 tablespoon of salt on the bottom of a 1-pint canning jar and pack 2 lemons into the jar, adding more salt, and the bay leaves as you go. Push down on the lemons to release as much juice as possible. Add extra lemon juice almost to the top of the jar. Cover the jar tightly.

Let the lemons sit at room temperature for 1 month, turning the jar upside down periodically to distribute the salt and juices.

To use the lemons, remove from the brine and discard the pulp. Wash the peel and use. Some white crystals will form on the top of the lemons in the jar, which is normal, so do not discard the lemons. They can be stored at room temperature or refrigerated for up to 1 year.

Chicken Tagine with Herbed Couscous

2 T. olive oil
1.25 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed and cut into one inch pieces
½ yellow onion, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
1 carrot, thinly sliced
½ c. green olives with pimento, sliced in half
1 lemon, thinly sliced
½ t. smoked paprika
½ t. turmeric
1 t. cumin
1 t. coriander
Juice of ½ lemon
1 c. chicken stock

Herbed Couscous
2 c. chicken stock
1 box couscous
¼ c. mint, chopped
¼ c. pistachios chopped
6 dried apricots, chopped
¼ preserved lemon (optional, must be made one month ahead, see below)

In skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Saute chicken. When starts to brown, add onions and garlic and sauté until onions are translucent, about 5 minutes. Add in garbanzos, carrot, olives and lemon. Stir in spices. Cook one minute then add lemon juice and 1 c. chicken stock. Lower heat and simmer for 10 minutes.

Make box of couscous according to package directions, using chicken stock. When done, fluff with fork and stir in mint, pistachios, apricots and lemon.

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