Chicken Tagine with Apricot and Dried Cherry Couscous

Cooking With Rania - "Rania's Chicken Tagine Recipe"
KDKA Pittsburgh Today Live 04/07/2010

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Chicken Tagine with Apricot and Dried Cherry Couscous

· 1 cinnamon stick
· 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
· 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
· 1 teaspoon hot paprika
· 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
· 1/4 teaspoon whole cloves
· 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for sautéing
· 4 cloves garlic, sliced
· 1 tablespoon chopped fresh ginger

· 1 cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
· 2 bay leaves
· 1 large pinch saffron
· 12 boneless and skinless chicken thighs
· Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
· 1 large onion, coarsely chopped
· 1 preserved lemon, recipe follows
· ½ cup pitted large green olives
· 1 cup chicken stock
Couscous with Apricots and Dried Cherries, recipe follows below

Preserved Lemons:
· 6 to 8 lemons
· 2 cups kosher salt
Wash lemons well and dry them. Cut 4 lemons into quarters from the top, being careful not to cut all the way through. Pack salt generously into the cuts and place lemon into a sterilized glass pint jar. Continue procedure, packing the lemons into the jar as tightly as possible. Squeeze juice from remaining lemons. Add another 2 tablespoons of salt to the jar and top off with the lemon juice, make sure the lemons are completely covered. Close the jar with a non-metallic lid and set aside in a cool, dark place or the refrigerator for one month. Preserved lemons will keep for 1 year. Refrigerate after opening.

In a skillet over medium heat, toast the cinnamon, peppercorns, cumin, paprika, red pepper flakes, and cloves until they start to smoke. Remove from the heat and grind in a spice grinder.

In a bowl large enough to accommodate the chicken, add the oil, spice mix, garlic, ginger, cilantro, bay leaves and saffron. Mix to a paste. Add chicken, rubbing the marinade over all the pieces. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours or overnight.

Remove the chicken from the marinade and reserve marinade. Pat chicken dry and season with salt and pepper. In a tagine or large casserole over medium high heat add 2 tablespoons olive oil. Put in chicken thighs and lightly brown on both sides, about 5 minutes. Add onions and cook until just starting to brown, about 3 minutes. Rinse preserved lemon well. Scoop out flesh and discard; cut peel into strips and add to pan. Add reserved marinade, olives, and chicken stock. Cover tightly and cook over medium low heat for 30 to 35 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through. Remove bay leaf and discard. Taste juices and adjust seasoning. Place chicken on a warm platter. Spoon juices with the preserved lemon, olives, and onions over chicken and serve accompanied by Couscous with Apricots.

Apricot and Dried Cherry Couscous:
· 1 cup couscous
· 1 ½ cups warm water
· 10 dried apricots
· ½ cup dried cherries
· ¼ cup whole almonds, toasted
· 2 green onions, green parts only
· 2 handfuls fresh mint leaves
· ½ lemon, juiced
· 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
· Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Put the couscous in a medium bowl; pour the water over it, stir with a fork to combine. Cover and let sit for 10 to 15 minutes, then uncover and fluff with a fork. Put the apricots, almonds, green onions, mint, and cilantro on a cutting board and coarsely chop everything up; add this to the couscous. Add lemon juice, drizzle with olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Toss gently to combine.

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

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