Let’s all breathe a sigh of relief as we pack away our Pesach kit and get back to “normal” cooking. But as one festival passes, another is always on the horizon. This time, we look ahead to one of the most fun holidays on our calendar – Yom Ha’atzmaut (Israeli Independence Day). In Israel, it’s the only official holiday on which no religious observance is required. This means carefree cooking, and no worries about getting it all done early and how each dish reheats. Cook it in the morning, cook it in the evening, cook it at supper time!
This time of year begs for the flavors of the region, and I plan to post recipes with an Israeli touch in the coming week. So for my first recipe of this series, I am adding one from Seattle! But what’s Seattle got to do with Israel, you must be wondering. Not a whole lot, except that I found a great recipe for slow cooked Moroccan Chicken, Apricot, and Chickpea Tagine on the wonderful Seattle Foodshed blog. I’ve been wanting to make this type of dish for a while, but most recipes require cooking the dish in a tagine, which is a traditional North African earthenware pot. I have resisted buying one as it’s big and takes up too much place. So when I saw this recipe, which not only didn’t require a tagine, but also called for the dish to be cooked in a slow cooker, I knew it was the one for me. And I wasn’t wrong! It was terrific.
Mary from the Seattle Foodshed kindly gave me permission to publish the recipe. I have made a few tweaks to her original recipe, including pan frying the chicken in flour so that it doesn’t dry out (I’ve had bad experiences with slow cooked chicken breasts), which keeps the meat moist, and adding some extra vegetables. I find it so hard to resist adding potatoes to anything that’s slow cooked – they come out so well. Just make sure to cut them up small, as this recipe calls for a 3-hour cooking time.
I love this recipe as it brings in all the wonderful spices and flavors of the Middle East (don’t be put off by the long ingredients list – most of it is spices). I doubled the recipe as I have a large slow cooker and the leftovers were delicious too.
SLOW COOKED MOROCCAN CHICKEN, APRICOT AND CHICKPEA TAGINE
1kg (2lb) boneless skinless chicken breasts
Flour for pan frying seasoned with salt, cumin, cinnamon and pepper. (About 1 cup, or as needed)
1 tablespoon flour
2 large onions roughly chopped
4-6 garlic cloves crushed
1 knob of fresh ginger, finely chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup dried apricots
100g (3.5 oz) tomato paste
1 large can chopped tomatoes
1 can chickpeas or 2 cups cooked chickpeas
1 sweet potato cubed
3 potatoes cubed in small cubes (bite sized)
2 carrots thinly sliced
3 tablespoons honey of silan (date honey)
2 cups chicken stock
1 teaspoon turmeric or a few hairs of saffron
1 teaspoon ground coriander (flakes)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper (for a hint of heat)
Salt and pepper
A handful of chopped fresh coriander
How to do it
1. Cut the chicken breasts into small pieces (about 5-6 cm in length) and dip in the seasoned flour.
2. Heat the oil in a large skillet or pan and pan fry each piece for about a minute on each side (do not brown), and set aside.
3. In the pan in which you fried the chicken, saute the onions and garlic until just soft (do not brown).
4. Add they honey/silan, tomato paste and chicken stock to the pan and mix in. Then sprinkle the flour and mix till there are no lumps.
5. Add all the spices and the chopped tomatoes and mix through.
6. Place the vegetables, chick peas, chicken pieces, apricots and the sauce in the slow cooker, give it a mix to ensure that all the ingredients are coated in the sauce.
7. Cook on high for 3 hours.
Serves about 6. Serve with cous cous or rice.