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Chicken, preserved lemon and prune tagine

Tagine

By Nici Wickes

Sometimes in idle moments I find myself dreaming of the tagines of Morocco; the cute clay dishes, with their conical lids, lined up on coals or gas burners, with their tiny tendrils of steam escaping and the wonderful exotic aroma of slow cooked meats and spices when the cooking is complete and their lids are finally lifted.

A tagine is a great way to do a slow cooked meal that is moist and flavoursome and you don’t necessarily need a tagine dish and open fire to achieve success, any pan or pot with a lid will do just fine.

Serves 6

You will need:

6-8 chicken thighs, bone in, skin on or off
Olive oil
2 medium red onions
1 ½ tsp cinnamon
1 heaped tsp ground coriander
1 tsp cumin
1 heaped teaspoon ginger
¼ tsp salt and pepper
½ preserved lemon – flesh & pith removed – chopped
1.5 cups (approx.) stock, vegetable or chicken
1 Tbsp honey
1 cup pitted prunes
Handful of fresh coriander, chopped, to garnish

What to do:

Heat the oil in a heavy based casserole dish or saucepan that has a lid preferably.
Add the onions and spices and cook until fragrant, then add the chicken, toss to coat in the spices and cook until beginning to brown on one side.
Add the preserved lemon, stock and honey.
Give everything a good stir then put the lid on (or cover tightly with foil) and simmer on a low heat for about1 ½ hours or until the meat falls away from the bones.
I check it after one hour and add more water, if it looks like it needs it, and the prunes at this stage.
Replace the lid and continue to cook. (Alternatively this dish can be cooked in the oven (170 C) for 1.5 hours).

Before serving, baste the chicken with the juices and taste it to see if it needs more salt or pepper to season.
Garnish with a handful of chopped coriander and serve with bread to mop up the juices.

Preserved Lemons

6 lemons – washed
½ cup coarse sea salt
½ tsp black peppercorns
1 bay leaf
¼ cup lemon juice

Wash jars and dry in an oven heated to 120 C to sterilise.

Scrub the lemons to remove any wax on the skin and rinse in cold water.
Cuts into quarters.
Pack the lemons into the jar (s), layering with the salt. Scatter with peppercorns, add the bay leaf and top up jar with lemon juice.
Pour in enough boiling water to fill the jar.
Seal the jar and store in a cool, dark place for at least 3 weeks, turning upside down occasionally to mix the salt and juices.
Ready to use after 3 weeks, will store for up to 4 months or longer.
Discard flesh and pith and use the softened skin in cooking.

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