A ras al hanout recipe is definitely the spice blend to have for any number of tagine dishes whether meat or vegetarian. Remember that the word tagine is used interchangeably for the cooking vessel as well as the finished dish. Use these spice blends on soups, grilled meats, vegetables, and on special relishes that can be served with couscous.
To the unfamiliar, tagine can be a little confusing, because it’s both the name of the dish, and the vessel in which the dish is cooked. Typically made of clay or ceramic, the tagine is used in northern African cuisine, and it is distinguished by its wide, circular base and a cone-shaped top. The tagine functions like a slow cooker in a sense, and the cone shape functions as a way to return moisture to the base of the tagine, creating a moist and flavorful dish.
1 to 2 preserved lemons, quartered and seeds removed.
1 whole chicken, cut into pieces, skin removed or just chicken thighs.
2 large onions, finely chopped. Smaller better.
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 small handful fresh cilantro, chopped
1 small handful fresh parsley, chopped
2 teaspoons powdered ginger
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1/4 teaspoon saffron threads, crumbled, optional
2 tsp ras el hanout, optional recipe available at Lets talk about Ras El Hanout
1/3 cup olive oil
1 handfuls pitted olives (green or red, or mixed)
5 dried black prunes halved
1 tomato sliced
1/4 cup water, approximately, if using a tagine
3 fresh green chilies slit
Remove the flesh from the preserved lemons and chop the flesh finely. Reserve rind for cooking.
Add the lemon flesh to a bowl along with the chicken, onion, tomatoes, prunes, garlic, cilantro, parsley, ginger, pepper, turmeric, and salt. If using, add the saffron, ras el hanout and mix well.
If time allows, let the chicken marinate in the refrigerator for several hours or overnight. Cook in either a tagine or in the oven. (See below for more information on both methods.)
TO COOK STOVE TOP
Add enough of the olive oil to the tagine to coat the bottom.
Distribute the onions all around the tagine.
Arrange the marinated chicken in the tagine, flesh-side down.
Add the olives and reserved rind of the preserved lemons, and drizzle the remaining olive oil over the chicken.
Add the water to the tagine, cover, and place on a heat diffuser over medium-low heat. Give the tagine time to reach a simmer without peaking. If you don’t hear the tagine simmering within 20 minutes, slightly increase the heat, and then use the lowest heat setting required for maintaining a gentle—not rapid—simmer.
Allow the chicken to cook undisturbed for 80 to 90 minutes, and then turn the chicken over so it’s flesh-side up. Cover the tagine again, and allow the chicken to finish cooking until very tender (about 45 minutes to 1 hour).
Turn off the heat, and let the tagine cool for about 10 to 15 minutes before serving. Enjoy.
TO OVEN COOK
Preheat oven to 425 F/220 C.
Pour enough of the olive oil to a large baking dish so it coats the bottom.
Add the sliced onions and garlic from the marinade.
Next add the olives and reserved rind of the preserved lemons on top and drizzle the chicken with the remaining olive oil.
Bake the chicken uncovered for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until the chicken is light golden brown, basting occasionally
Reduce the heat to 350 F/180 C and continue baking for another 20 to 30 minutes or longer. The chicken should be deeply browned and the juices should run clear
Remove the chicken from the oven and let it rest for 10 to 15 minutes before serving. Enjoy.
Serve with cous cous…and enjoy!
For either method, you can cut a whole chicken into either halves or individual pieces prior to marinating. The pieces may fit better in a tagine; the halves are easier to handle in the oven and can be cut after cooking.
You’ll get more flavor if you start marinating the chicken with the Moroccan spices the night before.
The cooking times may vary depending on the size of your chicken. In the tagine, 2 1/2 hours allows the tagine to be brought to a slow simmer so it doesn’t dry out.
Check that the internal temperature of the chicken is between 165 and 175 F.