Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Chicken Tagine

Before you decide to make this recipe, go straight to the Preserved Lemon recipe below and make that first. Then come back in 3 weeks and then let's make the Chicken Tagine.

I'm patient. I'll wait. can go to your local Middle Eastern market and buy ready-made preserved lemon, or you can buy it online. But, the point is, you need the preserved lemon in order to make this Moroccan dish work!

Now that we have all the ingredients, let's get ready to Tagine!


This recipe may have a lot of ingredients, but most of them are easily found or easily made (like the preserved lemon). And what helps me, and hopefully will help you, is that I am a big believer in mise en place which means, everything in its place. So even before I started making this (or any) recipe I always have all my ingredients washed and dried, cut, chopped, measured, and standing by and ready to go.

Finally, I am lucky I was gifted an authentic Moroccan tagine, so when I present this dish it gets a lot of ooh's and aah's. But if you don't have a tagine, you can cook your couscous and spread it in your favorite large, shallow dish or platter, then top with the chicken and the sauce.

And yes, I know I can cook in my tagine, but I'm a little apprehensive since I have never done it before. Hmm, I think it may be time for me to take a Moroccan cooking class!

I hope you enjoy this dish as much as my parents, my brother and his wife, my ex-laws and my co-workers did!
My mise en place. From top left: minced ginger, butter, Manzanilla olives, turmeric and cinnamon, preserved lemon and lemon zest on top, and minced garlic.

INGREDIENTS (serves 4)
  • 2 pounds chicken thighs and drumsticks
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon chicken base
  • Zest of one lemon
  • Juice of one lemon
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 1 preserved lemon (4 quarters), rinsed, pulp removed, and chopped (recipe below)
  • 1/2 cup sliced Manzanilla olives with pimentos, drained
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
  • Couscous, for serving

Pat the chicken dry, and season well with salt and pepper.

Heat the butter and olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. When pot is hot add chicken and brown on all sides, about 6 minutes per side, 12 minutes total.
Remove chicken and set aside.

Add the onion, ginger, turmeric, cinnamon to the pot and cook until onion is translucent, about 4 minutes. Add one teaspoon chicken base and add the garlic and lemon zest and stir for a minute. Taste and add more salt and pepper, if needed.

Add the browned chicken back into the pot and increase heat. Deglaze with wine, stirring, and allowing it to bubble. Next, add the chicken broth, lemon juice and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and cover and simmer gently for 40-45 minutes, or until chicken is done and cooked through.

To the sauce, add the preserved lemon, olives, parsley, and cilantro and heat for 5 more minutes and serve over couscous.

Preserved Lemon

  • 3 lemons, preferably organic, skin scrubbed well and each cut into quarters
  • 3 Tablespoons Kosher salt
  • 4 peppercorns
  • 4 coriander seeds
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 lemon, juiced

In a pint jar make layers of lemon, salt, peppercorns, coriander seeds, and repeat, making sure to press firmly after each layer and making sure to use all the spices. Tuck in the bay leaf and add the lemon juice. Slowly cover with water. Let stand at room temperature for 1 hour. Add more water, if needed, to cover the lemons. Close the jar tightly and store in the fridge for 3 weeks.

To use: Remove lemon from the liquid and rinse. Scrape out the pulp. Slice the lemon peels into thin strips or cut into small dices. 

Thursday, October 03, 2013

Stella's Krabby Patties

Well, hello! I know it has been a while since I posted a new recipe and I wished I had a good excuse, but all I can say is that work has been keeping me quite busy and all you smartphone aficionados will thank me next year.

But I did manage to come up with a kid-friendly recipe this week. Although I do eat meat, we rarely eat it at home and we specially rarely eat hamburgers. The main reason: my daughter does not eat meat. Very rarely will she eat chicken, but beef...don't even think about it.

So I decided to try a little Jedi mind trick on my girl and told her I was making "krabby patties" and asked her if she wanted to help me. Well, not only did she help me, but she also told me how to hold the spatula like Sponge Bob and explained to me exactly how many pickles a krabby patty needs to have (yes, I'm beginning to think she's been watching too much Sponge Bob Squarepants lately). Most importantly, she actually ate her "krabby patty!"

Nevertheless, this is what I came up with. I put very little seasoning on the meat because I find that little kids sometimes don't like a lot of seasoning. But you can season with a little salt and pepper while the meat is sizzling on the pan to add more flavor.

Finally, I cooked these a medium to medium-well, again because I don't want to get my kid sick, but for us adults, cook only a minute per side for a medium-rare--if you like medium-rare like I do!

And just a mommy side note: don't let your kids cook without you being 100% in front, supervising them, specially if using a stove. My daughter has grown up watching and helping me cook and I have ingrained in her head the hazards of hot stoves and ovens and that she can only cook while I'm watching her. Just a reminder to be careful when your kids are helping you in the kitchen.

INGREDIENTS (makes 8 sliders)

  1. 1 pound ground beef (87/13 or 90/10)
  2. 1/8 tsp. seasoning salt
  3. 1/8 tsp. garlic pepper
  4. 1/8 tsp. garlic powder
  5. 1/8 tsp. kosher salt
  6. a few grinds of pepper
  7. 1 egg
  8. Slider buns or Hawaiian buns
  9. Slices of American cheese, cut to fit the sliders
  10. Ketchup
  11. Pickles

In a large bowl combine first 7 ingredients and, using your hands, gently combine them all. Divide meat into 8 portions and roll them into balls (these are slider-sized burgers).

Heat a cast iron or nonstick skillet to medium high. Lightly brush with oil with a paper towel. When hot enough, add four of the balls and wait 30 seconds. With your handy spatula, smash the burgers down to about 2" to 2-1/2" diameter, making sure they are all about the same thickness, and let them sizzle another minute. 

Turn them over and add your slice of cheese. Cook for another minute for medium or two minutes for well done.

Remove from skillet and let rest a couple of minutes. Meanwhile, finish cooking the rest of burgers.

To build a proper Stella krabby patty place a burger on bottom bun, add a little ketchup and two pickle slices then place the top bun.