Although the tagine’s exact origins are debated, this two-piece clay pot with a distinctive cone-shaped top is synonymous with Moroccan cuisine, famous for its fragrant, tender stews chock full of vegetables, meats, and fruits. A colorful tagine simmering on the stovetop adds to the convivial atmosphere at a dinner party, and when presented at the table for serving, it delivers the wow factor. Cooking with a tagine also raises the fun level of everyday cooking for your family.
The base of a tagine is wide and shallow, and the tall, conical lid fits snugly inside. The design is artistic, but there’s more to a tagine than meets the eye. As steam rises into the cone, it condenses then trickles back down the sides into the dish, creating food that is tender, aromatic, and rich with flavor. Due to this process, cooking in a tagine often requires less liquid than other slow braising methods.
Arrangement and Presentation
Since you won’t be stirring during the cooking and the food will be presented in the tagine, take care how you layer ingredients for a beautiful table presentation. For instance, place onion slices on the bottom and arrange meats, vegetables, and fruits on top.
Tagine with a Texas Twist
Many kinds of stews and slow braised foods can be cooked in a tagine. Next time you’re hankering for some “red”—chili con carne done old school Texas style with chunks of beef and chilis–ditch the Dutch oven and finish the dish low and slow in a tagine.
Chicken Tagine with Olives and Preserved Lemons
- 5 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- ¼ teaspoon saffron threads, pulverized
- ½ teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
- ½ teaspoon ground cumin
- ½ teaspoon turmeric
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 chicken, cut in 8 to 10 pieces
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 medium onions, sliced thin
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 8 each—Kalamata olives and cracked green olives—pitted and halved
- 1 large or 3 small preserved lemons (sold in specialty food shops or make your own)
- 1 cup chicken stock
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley
Mix garlic, saffron, ginger, paprika, cumin, and turmeric together. Add pepper to taste. Rub chicken with mixture, cover, and refrigerate three to four hours.
Heat oil in skillet. Brown chicken on all sides. Remove to platter. Add onions to skillet and cook over medium-low heat about 15 minutes, until lightly browned. Transfer to tagine and add cinnamon stick. Arrange chicken on onions. Scatter with olives. Quarter the lemons, remove pulp and cut skin in strips. Scatter over chicken. Mix stock and lemon juice. Pour over chicken.
Cover tagine and place over medium-low heat for 30 to 40 minutes. (Use with a heat diffuser on the stovetop. Norpro sells one online for five or six dollars). Heat the tagine slowly to a simmer, then reduce the heat to the lowest temperature necessary to maintain the simmer. Let the tagine cool for about 10 to 15 minutes before serving. Scatter parsley on top. Recipe courtesy of The New York Times.