Ina Gartin’s chicken tajine

Despite her devotion to classic American and French food, one of the few times Ina’s championed a non-Western meal, it turned out to be one of the best recipes of hers I’ve tried. Well, it’s not exactly her recipe, but that of Private chef Gail Arnold. Tajines, named for the conical earthenware pots in which they are traditionally cooked, are typically associated with Moroccan cooking, although versions exist throughout North Africa. The feeling is comfort. It’s a stew, but the flavor profile is sophisticated and blends bitter, sour, and ever so slightly sweet to varying degrees, depending on the protein and addition of fruits, olives and herbs. The general seasonings: saffron (of course), paprika, cumin, coriander–this one is more on the sour side with lemon (preserved if you got em) and olives. Chicken thighs are perfect for this recipe, practically falling off the bone by the end of the cooking. Perfect with couscous. I mostly stick to the proportions in the recipe, but I change up the preparation and skip many steps. While marinating the chicken over night would be great, I’ve tried it both ways (half-assed last minute throw the chicken straight in the pot with all the ingredients) and it tastes roughly the same.

Chicken tajine (adapted from Gail Arnold’s recipe)

Ingredients

  • 6 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 finely chopped white onion (the finer the better)
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • the pulp of 2 lemons (or 2 preserved lemons)
  • 6-8 chicken thighs (bone in, skin on)
  • stems of 1 bunch of parsley and 1 bunch cilantro
  • 1/4 teaspoon saffron, 1/4 teaspoon tumeric
  • 1 cup pitted green olives
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
Preparation

In a food processor, pulse the onion, garlic, spices and oil. Add to pot with chicken, lemon pulp, and herb stems. Cover with water and let simmer with the lid slightly ajar until the chicken’s cooked and then some, about 45 minutes to an hour. Remove the chicken skins from the thighs at that point. Add olives and chopped herbs and simmer another 5-10 minutes. Serve over couscous or basmati rice.

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