Spiced with Ras el Hanout, a North African medley of many spices, and sweetened with apricots, this chicken tagine is a warm and exotic one-pot meal.
Tagines — the slow-cooked, savory stews of North Africa — are traditionally made and served in distinctive earthenware pots, often with lamb or chicken, and usually over couscous.
Cooked in a heavy-bottomed dutch oven rather than a tagine, this isn’t a traditional version, but it is deeply aromatic and delicious. Serve with fluffy couscous to absorb the richly flavored sauce.
8 chicken thighs
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 onions, sliced
2 medium fennel bulbs, quartered (save fronds for garnish)
1 tablespoon ras el hanout (**see note below)
Juice and zest of 1 orange
2 cups chicken stock
1 pinch saffron
1⁄3 cup dried apricots, roughly chopped
1⁄2 cup chopped cilantro
Heat oil in a six-quart Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Season chicken with salt and pepper, and add to pot; cook, turning once, until lightly browned on both sides, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a plate, and set aside.
Heat butter in same pot over medium heat, then add onions and fennel; cook, stirring for 10-15 minutes until soft. Add ras el hanout and cook for 1 minute.
Return chicken to pot along with orange, stock, and saffron. Bring to a boil, reducing heat to medium-low, and simmer, partially covered, until chicken is cooked through and tende, about 30 minutes.
Add apricots and continue simmering, about 5 minutes longer.
Season with more salt as needed, and garnish with cilantro and reserved fennel fronds. Serve over couscous.
**Commonly associated with North African, particularly Moroccan cuisine, Ras El Hanout is a favorite spice mixture for marinades, meats, and stews. Translated to mean “Top of the Shop” due to the high-quality ingredients typically used in this mixture, Ras El Hanout is also a rumored aphrodisiac.