Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Chicken Tagine with Apricots and Almonds

This year, March seems to be a slow and hard month to get by.  Winter does not want to leave.  It's still freezing cold in the morning outside. Sad news keep coming in the past week.  The haunting images and video clips of the disaster in Japan makes one wonder how unpredictable and vulnerable life is. No matter how advance the technology we have, when face with the force of mother nature, we are always the loser.  Losing your home, losing the loved ones, losing all your belongings...these are scary scenes.

But, as time passed, the other side of the story emerged.  Life is vulnerable, but it is also resilient. The lost of all your belongings at the moment does not mean lost of your hope to the future.  When people are held together to face difficulties, there is hope.

As the headlines gradually replaced by other world crisis, this may get forgotten very quickly.  I put this down in my blog post, to remind myself, that it is a blessing to have what I have right now, and that there are people all over the world who are experiencing extreme hardships due to all kind of natural or man-made disasters.  They need our continue support.

Please donate to: Red Cross Canada, Shelterbox Canada, Doctors Without Borders
(or other non-profit organizations of your choice at your own countries.  I put these few down here because I am more familiar with their works)

Because of busy work schedule, I have not picked up my camera for a while. This weekend, I felt an urge to make use what I have to take some pictures.  So I tried out this recipe from Cook's Illustrated.  I made a few Moroccan style stew before but N did not seem to like it. He accused me of making "funky" stuff.  But this time, he finished his whole plate of food all at once and didn't even pick out the apricots which he usually considered as "funky". 

I did make some changes to the recipe. As usual, I halved the recipe.  Instead of putting in green olives and dried apricots, I decided that almonds would add a nice crunchy texture to it and more appealing to N.  So, I paired almonds with apricots instead. I also skipped the mashed garlic which should be added with the lemon juice at the end. The good thing about this recipe is that, it does not need a traditional tagine.  According to Cooks, a heavy-lid Dutch oven is just as food to keep the moisture in during cooking. So, here is the modified recipe.

Chicken Tagine with Apricots and Almonds   
Adapted from Cooks Illustrated January 8, 2007 
Serves 3 to 4 

2         medium size chicken breasts, boneless, 
trim off excess fat
3         medium size chicken thighs, boneless, skinless, 
trim off excess fat
1/4      cup all-purpose flour
2 1/2   Tbsp olive oil
1         large onions, halved and sliced 1/4" thick
2         lemon zest strips (about 2" long)
4         medium cloves garlic, minced
1 1/4   tsp sweet paprika
1/2      tsp ground cumin
1/4      tsp ground ginger
1/4      tsp ground cinnamon
1/4      tsp ground coriander
1/8      tsp ground cayenne pepper
2         cup low-sodium chicken broth
1         Tbsp honey
3         medium carrots, peeled and sliced 1/2" thick
1/2      cup dried apricots, chopped
1/4       cup roasted almond, chopped
2          Tbsp lemon juice (for serving)
1/4       cup cilantro leaves, minced (for serving)
salt & pepper

  1. Brown the chicken - Pat dry the chicken with paper towels and season with salt and pepper. Heat 1 Tbsp oil in Dutch oven over medium-high heat until just smoking. Dredge the chicken in flour and shake off the excess. Brown the chicken in the pot on both sides, 6 to 8 mins.  Don't crowd the pot.  If too much chicken, brown it in two batches. Take the chicken out and put it aside.
  2. Brown the onion - Add 1 Tbsp oil to the pot and return to medium heat. Add onion, lemon zest, 1/2 tsp salt. Cook, stirring often, until the edges of the onion are browned, about 5 to 6 mins.  
  3. Add spices and broth - Stir in minced garlic, paprika, cumin, ginger, coriander, cinnamon and cayenne, cook until fragrant, about 30 sec. Slowly whisk in broth and honey, scraping up brown bits.
  4. Return browned chicken thighs to the pot, bring it to simmer and cook for 4 mins.  Add carrots to the pot.  Then put the chicken breasts on top of the carrots. Return to a simmer, cover, and cook until thickest part of the breast register 160 degrees. about 10 to 12 mins.
  5. Make the sauce - Transfer all chicken to a plate and loosely covered with foil.  Stir in chopped apricots, return to a simmer, cook, uncovered, until liquid are slightly thickened and carrots are tender. about 4 mins. 
  6. Add back the chicken - Shred the chicken into bite-size pieces. You can also keep the chicken in whole piece. Take out the lemon strips and stir in the shredded chicken.  Season with salt and pepper.
  7. To serve - Stir in lemon juice and let it sit off heat for 5 to 10 mins. Sprinkle cilantro and almonds on top of individual portion and serve with couscous.


  1. I've just recently started experimenting with dried fruit in savory dishes and love it! Can't wait to try this recipe!

  2. @Cookie - Thanks for stopping by. Try it out and let me know if you like it.

  3. Everything looks fine with me, and thinking I should probably cook more. Looks like this is a dish also good for keeping a while : ).

  4. @TasteHongKong - Same here. Want to cook and bake more, but really hard with a day job. I just do it at my own pace

  5. I made this for dinner today. It was simple and delicious! I'm definitely going to make it again.

  6. @Carli - Thanks for trying this. I'm glad you like it!


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