Nothing says festive winter dishes more to us than adding almonds and cinnamon to a slow cooked chicken leg served alongside prunes and apricots.
Gaining reputation and popularity in the UK, cooking with a tagine has become more renowned and more widespread.
Originating from the North African country of Morocco, tagines have always typically been made from clay. Traditionally made from clay that can either be used on the hob or inside the oven; for chefs who are wanting to cook with a more practical and durable material than earthenware, you can find a huge range of tagines made from either metal or glazed ceramics.
Tagine not only translates to the shape of the cooking dish, but also to the style of food that is cooked within it. An exotic version of a casserole, tagine dishes are slow cooked, combining meat with fresh fruit and chickpeas. What makes cooking with a tagine so delicious and exotic is the ability to blend the sweet and savoury flavours, creating a delicious dish that even the fussiest of eaters will love.
The dish is designed to create a deep and complex taste, releasing all the flavours from the ingredients; the deep-set base and conical lid allow the trapped steam to circulate inside of the pot, creating condensation and keeping the food moist.
When looking for a new tagine, you are after practicality, durability and performance; known to withstand heat and with a long-life span, cast iron tagine pots are subconsciously increasing in popularity.
Investing in a well-made, cast iron tagine is a once in a lifetime opportunity, as it opens a new world of intense flavours perfected over generations of traditional Moroccan cuisine.
Cooking with a tagine conjures up images of enchanting souks and dusty squares, busy with tourists watching snake charmers hypnotising their cobras and street performers conjuring up music from their homeland in central Africa.
When digging your treasured cast iron tagine pot out from the depths of the cupboard, be sure that you have stocked up on fresh apricots, spices to accompany the meat and couscous to be served on the side.
If you are a novice and want to give your tagine pot a whirl and are worried about making a meat tagine, do not fear. The joys about cooking a tagine is a lot like making a Sunday casserole, by placing all the ingredients together in your dish, the heat, moisture and flavours of all the spices will do the work for you.
Chicken leg tagine with prunes, apricots and roasted almonds, serves 5 people and takes 1-2 hours preparation time, 1-2 hours cooking time.
10 chicken legs, skinned, rinsed under cold running water and lightly covered with saffron
1 chicken stock cube
150g dried prunes
6 tablespoons of sugar
150g dried apricots
100g almonds, blanched, skinned and toasted
2 onions, finely chopped
3-4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
A few stems of coriander, finely chopped
½ bunch of fresh flatleaf parsley, finely chopped
4 tablespoons of olive oil
½ lemon, juice the lemon with a citrus squeezer
Salt and fresh ground pepper
2 teaspoons of ground ginger
5 teaspoons of cinnamon
½ teaspoon of ground turmeric
With a large bowl, mix half the garlic, half of the onion, half of the coriander and half of the parsley. Add the 2 tablespoons of olive oil, lemon juice, 1 teaspoon of ginger, 1 teaspoon of cinnamon and the turmeric before seasoning with salt and pepper.
Take the chicken legs and place underneath the mixture in the bow.
Cover the bowl with cling film and leave to marinade for 2 hours.
Preheat the oven to 180°C/160°C.
In a frying pan heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil and fry both sides of the chicken.
With the remaining olive oil, place into your tagine pot with the remaining garlic, onion, 1 teaspoon of ginger, stirring adding the chicken on top.
In a small dry pan heat the saffron and sprinkle the spice over the chicken, along with ground black pepper and 2 teaspoons of cinnamon, adding a splash of water.
Crumble the chicken stock cube into the water and finish by adding the remaining parsley and coriander.
Bake the tagine with the lid on for an hour in the oven or until the meat has turned tender.
In a saucepan, place the dried prunes with water and bring to boil. Adding 3 tablespoons of sugar and 1 teaspoon of cinnamon, reducing the heat, let the prunes simmer until they have caramelised.
In a clean saucepan, cover the dried apricots with water and leave to boil before adding the last 3 tablespoons of sugar and 1 teaspoon of cinnamon, reducing the heat until the apricots have caramelised.
When serving, garnish the meat with the prunes, apricots and toasted almonds.
Place the tagine on a protective mat in the centre of the table; allowing the family to tuck into this exotic, authentic Moroccan dish.
If you wish to try this simple but heavenly tender chicken tagine at home, we have the ideal tool for you, the Chasseur cast iron tagine 1.5L in a vibrant and jolly red.