UPDATE: Our tagine winner is Erica who said if she won she’d invite her inlaws… “maybe this will win them over..;). ” With your personality we’re certain you’ve already impressed them, Erica, but we’d love to hear how they like your tagine dinner!
I’m a no-nonsense cook. Don’t try to sell me a special pot if the one in my kitchen does the job just fine. That was my attitude before testing the Le Creuset tagine a few weeks ago. Did I really need a tagine when my Le Creuset Dutch oven made perfectly good stew? Without a side-by-side test, how would I know?
I started by looking for a simple recipe with readily available ingredients that would appeal to regular home cooks and would best test the tagine. I settled on Chicken Tagine with Apricots and Almonds from Epicurious, subbing in boneless, skinless chicken thighs for chicken parts.
I made two identical stews—one in my well-loved 5 1/2 quart Le Creuset Dutch oven of twenty years, the other in the Le Creuset tagine. The shiny new pot naturally captured my interest more during the cooking process. Yes, I could remove the lid without a potholder. Yes, the cone-shaped lid did seem to promote the return of all the condensation to the stew. Still, both stews simmered away happily, fragrantly. There appeared to be very little difference between them.
As an aside, there were two steps I loved in this recipe. One was the use of whole herbs. At first the practical cook in me questioned whether a bouquet garni of cilantro and parsley sprigs would really flavor the dish. Why not just throw in a handful of chopped fresh at the end?
And then there was the separate step of stewing apricots with cinnamon sticks, honey, and water. Wouldn’t adding the apricots directly into the stew along with little ground cinnamon be just as good? In fact, the bouquet garni flavored the stew subtly but beautifully and stewing the apricots separately with cinnamon sticks rather than tossing them directly into the stew was far superior.
Thirty minutes later, it was time to taste. Without a comparison, I would have thought chicken tagine cooked in the Dutch oven was perfectly fine. The chicken thighs were tender, the spices bold, the juices flavorful. But there was complete agreement among all the tasters that the chicken cooked in the tagine was even more tender, the juices richer, and the spices more integrated.
Is the tagine my new go-to pot? Not exclusively. In the future I’ll continue to use my beloved Dutch oven for big pots of traditional stew, but when I want to make a small exquisitely flavored spicy stew, I’ll reaching for the new “other pot” in my kitchen.
Thanks to Le Creuset, we’re doing a tagine giveaway. Just tell us who you’d invite for dinner at your next tagine dinner! Be creative—your guest(s) could be fantasy, fictional, family, or friend.
I was about to say I’d invite George Clooney and Meryl Streep, but since it was the anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s death a few days ago, I’d like for him to see just how much progress we’ve made and how much American cuisine has evolved.
Contest ends at 9 PM on Sunday, April 29th. We’ll announce the winner the next morning.
Chicken Tagine with Apricots and Almonds
3 tablespoons honey
2 2-inch pieces cinnamon stick
3/4 cup dried Turkish apricots, separated into halves
1 1/2 teaspoons each: ground cinnamon and ginger
3/4 teaspoon each: turmeric and ground black pepper
2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus extra for seasoning
3 tablespoons, plus 1/4 cup olive oil
2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, halved
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 large red onion, halved, then sliced 1/4 inch thick
6 garlic cloves, minced
5 fresh sprigs each: cilantro and flat-leaf parsley tied together with kitchen twine
1/2 cup slivered blanched almonds
Bring honey, 1 cup water, cinnamon sticks, and apricots to a boil over medium-high heat in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, until apricots are tender and liquid is reduced to a glaze 15 to 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, mix cinnamon, ginger, turmeric, pepper, salt, and 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large bowl. Add chicken and toss to coat; set aside.
Heat butter and another tablespoon oil in base of tagine (or deep skillet or Dutch oven) over medium-high heat until hot but not smoking. Working in batches to avoid overcrowding sauté chicken, turning only once, until impressively brown, 5 to 6 minutes per batch. Transfer to a plate.
Add onion to empty tagine and sauté until soft, 6 to 8 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes. Add herb bundle to tagine along with 3/4 cup water, and chicken. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until juices are rich and chicken is tender, about 30 minutes, adding apricots the last 10 minutes of cooking.
Heat remaining 1/4 cup oil in a small skillet over medium heat; fry almonds, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, about 2 minutes. Transfer with a slotted spoon to paper towels to drain. Discard herbs and cinnamon sticks. Sprinkle chicken with almonds and serve.