I enjoy cooking. I don’t find it to be either a chore or an obligation. And because I enjoy cooking, cookbooks and kitchen tools make successful gifts and presents. I’ve gotten carving knives, gourmet olive oils and vinegars, and blog- and New Orleans- themed cookbooks from friends and family. On my 30th birthday, Caitlin made me a doughnut cake, with the additional gift of the doughnut cake pans that helped to bake that cake.
More recently, I received a tagine, an earthenware pot perfect for cooking and serving couscous and other Middle Eastern and North African dishes. Before its first use, I learned you should season your tagine. Naturally, I figured this out just a few hours before I had decided on a tagine-centered dinner. Reluctant to serve Caitlin dinner at Midnight, I scrapped the tagine in favor of a more traditional cooking device. As a result, the tagine is not a mandatory item for this chicken tagine recipe. In fact, the Dutch Oven worked great (and the original recipe called for a large skillet).
All that being said, the dish turned out beautifully. The olives and fennel combined for a great flavor, and one I wouldn’t necessarily have thought to combine before I began searching for recipes to use with my new cooking tool.
Chicken Tagine with Fennel and Olives and Pearl Couscous
Recipe from Bon Appetit
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Yield: Serves 4
WHAT TO GRAB:
Chicken Tagine 1 teaspoon ground cumin ½ teaspoon paprika ½ teaspoon fine sea salt ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper 6 skinless boneless chicken thighs (1 ½ pounds) 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided 2 medium fennel bulbs, stalks trimmed, bulbs halved vertically, then cut crosswise into ½-inch slices 2 cups low-salt chicken or vegetable broth 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice ½ cup pitted brine-cured green olives, quartered lengthwise ½ cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro or Italian parsley Pearl Couscous 1 1/2 cups Israeli or pearl couscous 2 cups water or broth 2 tablespoons currants 1 shallot, minced 1 tablespoon pine nuts, toasted 1 teaspoon lemon zest 1/2 heaping cup grape tomatoes Salt and Pepper to taste
HOW YOU DO IT:
1. Mix cumin, paprika, salt, and cayenne in small bowl. Cut the chicken thighs crosswise into thirds. Toss in a large bowl with spices.
2. Heat one tablespoon of the oil in a Dutch Oven or large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and brown for two minutes per side. Take the chicken out of the Dutch Oven and transfer to a plate (but keep it handy).
3. Add the last tablespoon of olive oil to the Dutch Oven. Add the chopped fennel and sauté until golden in spots, about five minutes. Return the chicken to the Dutch Oven. Add the broth and lemon juice. Bring to simmer, scraping up browned bits. Cover, reduce the heat to low, and cook until the chicken is cooked through, 15 to 20 minutes minutes. Add the olives and simmer until the sauce thickens, about five more minutes. Finally, stir in the cilantro or parsley and season with salt and pepper.
4. To make the couscous, bring 2 cups of broth to a boil in a medium saute pan. Pour in the couscous and reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Turn off the heat and let it stand, covered, for another 5 minutes. Stir in the currants, shallots, pine nuts, lemon zest, and grape tomatoes, and fluff. Add salt and pepper according to taste.