Warm up Winter with Sweet and Spicy Ribs

Sweet and Spicy Ribs

I’m now catering for two sons who come home every weekend from the army, and are starved for home cooked food. I am always on the look out for new ways to provide them with the protein they both crave so much after a week of oily chicken and too much starch.

Recently, I decided to tackle ribs. Don’t worry, I’m talking about the beef variety. Coated in a aromatic spice rub and slow cooked in a sticky sweet and spicy sauce, these ribs come out beautifully soft and falling apart. I served them with crisp roast potatoes, and they went down a treat, especially in this wintery weather.

SWEET AND SPICY RIBS

Ingredients

2 kg (4 lbs) beef ribs (with or without the bones)

Spice Rub

1 tablespoon sweet paprika

½ tablespoon smoked paprika

1 teaspoon chili powder

2 teaspoons garlic powder

1 teaspoon chipotle powder (if you don’t have, then increase all your other spices by a little to make up the one teaspoon)

1 teaspoon ground black pepper

½ teaspoon dried thyme

2 teaspoons salt

1½ tablespoons packed brown sugar

Sauce

2 cups ketchup or tomato paste

½ cup silan / golden syrup / molasses

½ cup packed brown sugar

¼ cup of blackberry jam or preserves

1/3 cup vinegar

1 tablespoon of the spice rub

1 tablespoon liquid smoke (optional but recommended)

How to do it

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 200ºC (400ºF)
  2. Cut the ribs into 6 pieces, wash and dry well. Line a baking tray with baking paper.
  3. Mix the spice rub together in a small bowl and set aside 1 tablespoon for use in the sauce. Rub the rest of the spice rub evenly over each piece of meat and place each piece on the baking tray. Bake for 15 minutes on each side.
  4. While the meat is in the oven, add all of the sauce ingredients to a small saucepan and bring to the boil. Lower the heat and simmer for about 15 minutes, stirring now and again. Set about a cup of the sauce aside to serve the meat with.
  5. Spray the bowl of the slow cooker with non-stick spray. Spread some of the sauce on the bottom of the bowl. Add the meat and the then the rest of the sauce, making sure all the meat is covered with sauce.
  6. Cook on high heat for 4-5 hours or on low heat for 7-9 hours. The meat should be tender and falling apart when it is done.

Serves about 8.

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Meatballs – Great Comfort Food

Meatballs in Sweet and Sour Sauce

There’s something about meatballs in a thick and hearty sauce that makes a the cold and rain of a chilly winter’s day feel like perfect weather. For years I’ve been making a traditional Italian style meatballs in tomato sauce that goes perfectly with spaghetti. I decided to mix it up a bit this winter and make a sweet and sour version. I get a little worried when introducing change into family favorites, but this one went down a treat.

When you have a family like mine that likes to eat, especially my son who’s an athlete and needs his protein, you’ll want to make this recipe with about 1.5 kg of ground beef at least. Don’t be shy! They reheat very easily and well, if there are any leftovers.

Ingredients

Sauce

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 large onion finely chopped

4-5 cloves of garlic crushed

1 800g (28 oz) can of crushed tomatoes (you can also use whole peeled tomatoes and crush them yourself)

2 cups of beef or chicken broth

 

½ cup brown sugar

Juice of half a small lemon (about 1 tablespoon or so)

Meat Balls

1kg (2 lb) fresh ground beef

2 large eggs

4 tablespoons ketchup

½ teaspoon meat spice (preferably BBQ flavor)

1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh parsley

Salt and ground black pepper

About ½ cup of bread crumbs (preferably freshly made)

How to do it

  1. Prepare the sauce by heating the olive oil in a large pot. Saute the onions until they are soft (they will just start to color, don’t brown them). Add the crushed garlic and stir around in the pot for a few seconds until they just start to get some color (do not let them brown otherwise they will burn). Add the tomatoes, sugar, lemon and seasoning. Bring to the boil and then turn the heat down to low and let the sauce simmer uncovered for a few minutes. Turn the sauce off while you prepare the meatballs.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk the egg, add the spices and ketchup, and mix together. Add the ground beef and mix well until combined. Add the breadcrumbs and mix well. Check to see that you have a consistency that allows you to shape a ball that retains its shape. If the meat mixture is too soft, add some more breadcrumbs, but don’t make the mixture too dry or your meatballs will be dry.
  3. Bring the sauce to the boil. Make small golf-ball sized meatballs (I use a heaped tablespoon to give me a consistent amount of meat per ball) and drop them carefully into the sauce. Shake the pot occasionally to ensure the meatballs are all covered with sauce. If you find that there isn’t enough sauce, then top up the pot with a little more stock, making sure you don’t add too much so as not to dilute the flavor.
  4. When all the meatballs are in the pot, turn the heat down low, cover the pot and allow the meatballs to simmer for about an hour.

This makes about 20-25 meatballs.

Serve with brown or white rice.

 

A Winter Warm-up with Indian Spiced Chicken and Spinach

Haul out your large wok, and get ready for a simple and delicious chicken curry made with boneless thighs (pargiot) and all those perfect Indian spices. What I love about this dish is that it’s relatively quick to prepare. To me, there’s nothing like the great, moist texture of boneless chicken thighs – they just don’t dry out like breasts tend to, so leftovers taste just as good as the freshly-made dish (that’s why I double this recipe). The down side is that they are a little fatty, so I do take the extra time to trim as much fat off as I can. Served with white or brown rice, this is a very happy comfort food for the winter.

INDIAN SPICED CHICKEN WITH SPINACH

Ingredients

1 kg (2.5 lb) boned chicken thighs (pargiot), cut into 3 or 4 pieces each

About 2 tablespoons oil

1 large onion roughly diced

2 teaspoons ground cumin

2 teaspoon ground coriander

1 teaspoon turmeric

¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper

4 cloves garlic crushed

1 tablespoons grated fresh ginger

400g (14oz) crushed tomatoes

¾ cup coconut cream

½ teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon brown sugar

Half a lemon or lime squeezed

150g (5oz) fresh spinach roughly chopped

2 tablespoons chopped fresh coriander

How to do it

1. Heat the oil in a large wok or heavy pan over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook until soft (translucent, not brown). Then add the spices and ginger, and cook while stirring for about 2 minutes. Add the garlic and stir around for about a minute – don’t let the garlic burn.

2. Add some of the chicken – just enough pieces so they do not overlap (slide the chicken pieces inside the onions so they make full contact with the surface of the pan). Cook each side of each piece until they are just browned. Remove the chicken pieces and repeat the process until all the chicken is browned.

3. Add the tomato and coconut cream to the pan, stir and bring to a boil. Add all the chicken pieces, cover the wok/pan, and turn down the heat to a simmer. Cook for about 15 minutes or until the thickest piece is cooked through.

4. Add the sugar, lime/lemon juice and spinach, and stir together until the spinach has wilted – 1-2 minutes. Remove from the heat and add the fresh coriander.

Serve with white or brown rice.

Serves about 6.

Gumbo in a Pot for that Summer Chaos

Kosher Chicken Gumbo

Chicken Gumbo served with Rice

The summer vacation is now starting to weigh heavy on all us parents. Let’s face it, as much as we love having our kids around, trying to keep working, getting them ferried around to their various venues of entertainment and cooking many more meals than usual is tiring. This is when the “meal in a pot” comes in handy. Even if it’s not always child friendly, it means you can make something delish for the grownups in no time, and throw a schnitzel in the oven for the young ‘uns on those days where you’ve just run out of steam.

This gumbo is one of my husband’s great “one pot” finds. Living in Israel exposed me to the joys of okra, or bamia as it’s known here, which is a main ingredient. While I am a huge proponent of “fresh, fresh, fresh”, this is one of those veggies that is a bit of a pain in the rear end to deal with fresh, and the frozen version is just wonderful and super easy to use. This also ties in with the “easy meals for summer” concept. So use the frozen version and make your life easy. This is a recipe from the local chef and author Gil Hovav, who has made it his life’s work to eat his way through the back alley restaurants of Israel in his search for really authentic local cuisine. Try this out and taste one of the gems he’s discovered.

CHICKEN GUMBO WITH OKRA

Ingredients

6 skinless chicken thighs cut into the thighs and legs (it’s important to have them skinless)

Black pepper and salt

4 tablespoons olive oil

3 tablespoons flour

500 g (1 lb) okra – if they’re small, leave them whole otherwise cut into bite sized chunks

2 medium sized onions chopped

4-5 garlic cloves crushed

1 red or green pepper chopped

2 stalks of celery chopped

2 large ripe peeled tomatoes chopped

2 cups of chicken broth

1 teaspoon spicy paprika or 1 teaspoon paprika + ½ a teaspoon cayenne pepper

500 g (1 lb) chopped spicy chorizo or cabanos sausage (small bite sizes)

How to do it

1. Season the chicken pieces with salt and pepper and seal them in 2 tablespoons of the oil that you’ve heated in a large pot, Remove the chicken and saute the onion until it’s transparent. Then add the garlic and saute for another minute making sure it doesn’t burn.

2. Add the pepper, celery, okra and paprika (and cayenne pepper if using) and stir over a medium heat for about 3 minutes.

3. Add the tomatoes and continue to stir every now and again for about 25 minutes.

4. Meanwhile in a small pot, (I know it’s another pot, but it’s small), mix together the remaining oil with the flour, cook over a low flame, stirring, until the mixture takes on a light brown color – do no burn.

5. Add a little of the chicken stock – about a ¼ cup – to  the flour mixture, mix and then mix it in to the pot with the vegetables. Add the rest of the stock and the chicken pieces and bring to the boil, reduce the flame to low, cover and simmer for about an hour. If the liquid starts to disappear,, add a little more water to the pot to get a stew consistency.

6. After it’s been cooking for an hour, add the pieces of sausage, cover and simmer for a further 30-40 minutes on low heat.

Serve on rice.

Serves about 8 people.

Sometimes you just don’t want to work too hard, so there’s Chicken Satay

Chicken Satay

Chicken Satay

You know those weeks that are endless and tiring and you just don’t have the energy to work too hard in the kitchen but you have to feed your families? Sure you do and I have them too, so I love the recipes that allow you to throw together a delicious meal that doesn’t take too long to cook but makes everyone happy.

Here’s a quick and easy way to make Chicken Satay skewers. The sauce is simple, cooking takes minutes and the most labor intensive part is threading the chicken onto the skewers. Every now and again I haul this one out of the recipe archive and it never fails. Make sure you don’t overcook the skewers though…

They can be cooked in the oven or on the BBQ so it’s good for winter and summer as well.

I serve this with a super quick and easy Asian pasta salad.

CHICKEN SATAY

Ingredients

4 boned and skinned chicken breasts (2 doubles) cut into strips about 2 cm or less than an inch wide.

3 cloves garlic crushed

All those beautiful spices chopped and ready

All those beautiful spices chopped and ready

1 teaspoon chopped coriander

½ teaspoon curry powder

¼ teaspoon chili powder

1 teaspoon fresh chopped ginger

2 tablespoons brown sugar

Juice of half a lemon or lime

4 tablespoons smooth peanut butter

1 cup coconut milk

How to do it

1. Soak wooden skewers in water for about 5 minutes. Thread the chicken pieces onto the skewers – no more than two per skewer. Set aside.

Skewered chicken

Skewered chicken

2. Mix together all the rest of the ingredients in a saucepan. Bring to the boil and allow to simmer for a few minutes until the sauce thickens. Allow to sauce to cook down a little.

3. Spoon about two thirds of the sauce over the skewers, turning the skewers to make sure all the sides are coated. Allow the the skewers to sit for about half an hour. (Tip: You can cover the tips of the skewers in foil so they don’t burn – if you have the energy!)

4. Pre-heat your oven grill. Cover a baking tray with foil and spray it with non-stick spray or lightly oil it.  Place one layer of skewers on the baking tray and place the tray on the highest rack in the oven. Grill for no longer than 4-5 minutes on each side. Repeat with the remaining skewers if you didn’t get them all in the oven in the first batch.

5. Reheat the remaining sauce and serve with the skewers.

Serves about 4-5.

That Good Old South African Coke Brisket Recipe

Brown Brisket with Carrots, Potatoes and Onions

I’m sure that the ubiquitous Coke brisket/chicken recipe that took the South African Jewish culinary community by storm in the 1980s is widely available in various forms all over the internet. Still, I felt that I had to publish my version on my blog because it’s just one of those trusty stand-by recipes that gets dusted off every now and again and proves why it is around all these decades later. From my earliest days of cooking, when I was a student at The Hebrew University and had just met my husband, I have been making this recipeץ Back then I used chicken and among my friends it was know as “Brown Chicken”. Here, we’ll call it Brown Brisket.

I have a few versions in my tattered pile of recipe cars and fading A4 pages, even one that uses Diet Coke (which I’ve never made and don’t intend to). I use the one with good old fashioned sweetened Coke, because it’s Rosh Hashana and food should be sweet, right? Those of you who prefer healthy cooking avert your eyes. I prefer to use natural ingredients in my cooking (I’m not talking about dessert here) but every now and again I am prepared to veer off the path of the righteous cook into iffy territory. It’s all about moderation, isn’t it?

The original recipe is for oven cooked brisket (instructions included), but as stated previously, our Israeli brisket demands to be slow cooked, so I used almost the same recipe and it came out great after 10 hours of cooking. Now my house smells just how a Jewish home a few days before Rosh Hashana should.

BROWN BRISKET COOKED WITH COKE

Ingredients

2-3 kg (4½-6½ lb)brisket

1-2 onions sliced about 1 cm wide

1 kg of peeled small potatoes (optional but highly recommended)

4-5 large carrots peeled and sliced into thick slices (also optional but highly recommended)

1 cup tomato paste (200g)

1 cup chutney or apricot jam

3 tablespoons onion soup powder

2 tablespoons chicken soup powder

4 bay leaves

2 teaspoons ginger powder

About 2 cups of Coke (enough to make 4 cups of sauce with the rest of the ingredients above)

How to do it

1. Place the vegetables at the bottom of the slow cooker. Put the bay leaves on top of the veggies and then the brisket on top.

Ready for cooking

2. In a mixing bowl or large measuring jug, mix the tomato paste, chutney/jam, soup powders, and ginger. Then add the coke to make up about 4 cups of sauce. Pour over the brisket.

3. Cook the brisket on low for 10-11 hours or on high for 4-5 hours. (To oven cook, preheat the oven to 200°C/375°F, place the brisket in a roasting pan, cover and cook for about 2½ hours. Make sure to cut they vegetables you use quite small to ensure they cook through.)

4. Allow the brisket to cool before slicing.

Note: This brisket freezes really well with the sauce.

Serves 10-12 people depending on the size of the brisket.

My favorite summer chicken recipe

I could barely wait for the summer to begin so that I could share this wonderful dish with you. I first tasted this classic Chicken Marbella dish many years ago, when my boss, at the time, made it for a work gathering, and I was blown away. She shared the recipe with me back then, and I haven’t let go of it since. Adapted from The Silver Palate cook book version, this is the perfect summer Shabbat main course. Why, you may ask. It’s because this chicken tastes best when it’s at room temperature, and not hot. So this is one less dish for you to squeeze onto the hot plate.

What I love about the taste of this chicken is that it’s far more delicious than the sum of its parts. Ingredients include capers and green olives, neither of which I am fan. But in this dish, these flavors combine beautifully with the dried prunes, garlic, herbs, white wine and brown sugar to ensure that you are serving a winner every time. The most important part of this dish though, is its marinading time. It must sit overnight in the marinade. This way, all the flavors really permeate the meat and make the chicken exceptionally delicious.

CHICKEN MARBELLA

Chicken Marbella

Ingredients

2 chickens cut up into 8 pieces each (then I always ask the butcher to cut the breasts in half again so you have 4 pieces of breast meat per chicken)

10 cloves of garlic crushed (you can add more if you feel like it)

2 tablespoons dried oregano

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1/3 cup red wine vinegar

1/3 cup olive oil

1 cup pitted prunes

1/2 cup pitted green olives with some of the juice

1/3 cup capers with some of the juice

4-5 bay leaves

Brown sugar to sprinkle over the chicken before cooking (about half a cup)

About 1 cup white wine

How to do it

1. In a large bowl combine the chicken pieces, garlic, oregano, salt and pepper, vinegar, olive oil, prunes, olives and juice, capers and juice, and bay leaves. Mix through well so all the pieces are coated with the marinade. Cover and marinate overnight in the refrigerator (whatever you do, don’t skip the overnight marinading process!).

2. The next day…pre-heat the oven to 180°C (350°F).

3. Spray a baking dish with non-stick spray. Arrange the chicken pieces in a single layer and pour the marinade over. Sprinkle each chicken piece with a little brown sugar and pour the white wine around the pieces.

4. Bake for about 45-50 minutes, basting every now and again with the marinade. After around 45 minutes, check to see if the breasts are done using a fork to make sure there’s no pink in the center. If they are done, remove them from the baking tray and set aside. If they aren’t done, cook till they’re done, but don’t let them dry out – another 5-10 minutes. Return the dark meat pieces to the oven and carry on cooking for another half an hour or so, basting the chicken. When the dark pieces are done (the meat from the legs starts coming away form the bone and clear juices run from thigh pieces pricked with a fork in the meatiest parts, remove from the oven and leave to cool down.

5. Serve at room temperature. The chicken can be frozen and thawed, but make sure you leave enough time for the chicken to reach room temperature after thawing.

Serves about 10.

Last Minute Wings on the BBQ

If you’re anything like me, then you probably get to the day before you’re entertaining and decide that you haven’t prepared enough food. I am guilty of doing this over and over, and it’s got nothing to do with being prepared, it’s just got to do with my genetic predisposition to overcook.

If you are looking for a last minute, easy item for your Yom Ha’atzmaut BBQ, try these barbecued chicken wings. I basically make the sauce by throwing in some of my favorite sauces.

Wings on the BBQ

There are some rules of thumb, though, and this recipe highlights them. You will need a tomato base – I use tomato paste, but you can also use ketchup. I add sweetness with either chutney, brown sugar or silan date honey, so I prefer not to use ketchup. You can make the sauce as spicy as you want. Simply increase the quantities I have here for the cayenne pepper and chili or tobasco sauce. I like mine to have a spicy kick, but I don’t like to overwhelm the sauce with heat. I also recommend always adding some kind of meat sauce, like HP or Hunt’s. Play with this recipe and have fun. As long as you have enough sauce to coat all the pieces of chicken, you will be OK. Please note that my quantities are approximate. You really don’t have to be accurate with this recipe.

I also highly recommend letting the chicken sit in the sauce overnight to get the flavor deeply into the meat.

BBQ CHICKEN WINGS

Ingredients

3kg (6½ lbs) chicken wings

BBQ sauce in progress

250g (8 oz) tomato paste

¼ cup chutney or silan or brown sugar (or all three or any two!)

1/3 cup sweet chili sauce

2-3 tablespoons BBQ sauce (such as HP or Hunt’s – but do not use hickory flavored sauces.)

½ teaspoon cayenne pepper flakes

A few drops of Tobasco sauce or 1 small chili finely chopped (optional but recommended)

¼ teaspoon meat spice

Salt and pepper

How to do it

Cover the wings thoroughly with the sauce

1. In a large bowl, mix together all the sauce ingredients. Add the chicken wings, tossing them through the sauce thoroughly so that all the wings are coated with sauce.

2. Transfer to an airtight container or cover with cling film and leave the wings to marinade overnight, or for at least 4 hours if you are in a rush. You can also freeze the wings in the sauce, but make sure you then defrost the wings so they are not frozen when you cook them.

3. Barbecue the wings until they are ready – this varies depending on how plump the wings are. Make sure they are properly cooked through – if the meat just starts to come away from the bone, they are probably ready.

Yom Ha’atzmaut – Israel’s BBQ Festival

Over the years, Yom Ha’atzmaut has become known as the BBQ festival or “Chag Ha’mangal” in Israel. The large clouds that form over Sacher Park in the center of Jerusalem every Yom Ha’atzmaut, and over all other Israeli public parks, gardens, parking lots and even traffic islands, are proof. Israelis, who, on average, consume 9,500kg of beef per month, guzzle down 15,000kg in the month of Yom Ha’tzmaut. Sounds crazy, but Israelis are still nowhere close to meat eaters in other developed countries: Israel is last on the list of developed nations when it comes to meat consumption per person per year with 14kg – lagging far behind world leaders Argentina (of course) with 54kg; Australia with 46kg; and the US with 41kg.

But enough with the stats. I too am guilty of upping our meat consumption in the month of Iyar, and enjoying a good, meaty BBQ along with the rest of Am Yisrael. It makes perfect sense – the weather in this pre-summer time of year is perfect for being outdoors, so BBQs are the meals of choice.

Oh so juicy and delicious

In my family, there’s no such thing as having a BBQ without my home-made hamburgers. I started making my own burgers years ago. With a little advice from the guy at the supermarket meat counter, I set off on my odyssey to create the ultimate burger. I do make my own breadcrumbs, and I definitely believe that this makes a difference. I don’t add anything green to the patty, and my kids are grateful.The result is a burger that goes back to basics, and keeps things simple. And as opposed to those awful factory-made pieces of fake meat that go by the name “hamburgers” these shrink very little when cooked as they are not pumped full of water to increase the volume and make them look bigger in the store.

Of course, the BBQ chef is an essential part of the process, and I am always happy to hand off the cooking side to my husband, who does an amazing job every time. He can’t give a real time on how long they need to cook, rather watches them turn a nice hamburger brown before he takes them off the flame.

Before you BBQ your perfect burger, don’t forget to prepare some fun condiments to go with it. Take a little extra time, and fry 4 large onions slowly in a little oil until they are really caramelized and brown.You can also saute mushrooms, which make another delicious addition to your burger. Uou can also thinly slice eggplant and fry those for the ultimate Israeli topping that will give your burger a special Yom Ha’atzmaut flavor. These are in addition to the fresh tomato and lettuce and pickled cucumbers that you’ll serve, along with mustard and ketchup, or course.

MY “SECRET” HAMBURGER RECIPE

Ingredients 

Juicy and ready for the BBQ

1 kg (2 lbs) ground beef (make sure it’s not the lean beef – you need the fat in the meat to keep it from getting dry)

2 eggs

1 tablespoon ketchup

¼ teaspoon ground black pepper

½ teaspoon meat spice mix (any one you like). Note: If there are spices you like in your meat, go ahead and add them – you can add paprika, cumin, garlic, freshly chopped parsley, etc. Whatever suits your taste will work.

½ tablespoon chicken soup powder

About 1/3 cup breadcrumbs (or more if needed) – preferably freshly made*

How to do it

1. In a large bowl, beat the eggs, ketchup, seasoning and chicken soup powder together.

Add the breadcrumbs carefully so you don't dry out the mixture

2. Add the meat and mix together well. Then start adding the breadcrumbs, and keep adding and mixing until you get a firm consistency – the meat needs to be firm enough to easily form into a patty. Don’t add too many breadcrumbs though.

3. When you have the right consistency, start forming your patties. Line a tray or oven pan with baking paper. Take a large serving spoon and scoop up a spoon full of the meat, You can use the shape of the spoon to smooth out the one side of the patty. Create a ball and then start patting the meat down until it forms a patty that is round and about 1½cm (½ inch) thick. Place it on the paper, and keep going until all your meat is used up. 1 kg of meat should yield about 7-8 patties. You can store them in the refrigerator until you need them, or you can prepare them a couple of days ahead of time and freeze them.

4. Cook on a hot barbecue until brown on both sides.

*Fresh breadcrumbs: Slice 3-4 thick slices of day-old+ bread into cubes and put them in the food processor using the large metal blade and process for about 1-2 minutes until you get crumbs. You can store any leftovers in the freezer. (Because you aren’t using these to fry with, you don’t have to dry them out in the oven, so it really is a quick process)

Pesach is over, roll on Yom Ha’atzmaut with some slow cooked Moroccan chicken

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

Ingredients 

Moroccan Chicken Tagine (Picture from the Seattle Foodshed)

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.