Tuesday, December 21

The Best Lunch Ever!

It has been very cold in North Carolina. It's been between 18F and 35F since Thanksgiving and us warm blooded folks are not used to it. It is meant to get this cold for a couple of weeks in February! Not so soon! As a consequence, we have all been inflicted with one form of respiratory illness or another, and this past Sunday required a heart-warming chicken stew of some sort. Moroccan Chicken Tajine was my answer.

I was very excited to use my lovely new green tajine I had recently purchased at Marshalls. It was made in Italy and a piece of art. Really worth the $20! I found a good recipe on the FoodNetwork, my favorite resource for recipes. These chefs who end up on TV kinda know what they're doing, and the reviews often supplement ingredients and methods well. I found a great recipe by Rachel Ray. To be honest, I find her slightly annoying (don't know why, maybe the scratchy voice?), but she really has some of the best recipes which are also pretty easy.

Here is her recipe which I have copied/pasted from the FoodNetwork directly. All credit goes to them:

"Chicken Tajine


2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, 2 turns of the pan

4 cloves garlic, smashed beneath the flat of your knife with the heel of your hand, discard skins

1 1/2 to 1 3/4 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into large bite-size pieces

1 1/2 teaspoons grill seasoning blend (recommended: Montreal Seasoning by McCormick) or coarse salt and coarse pepper

2 medium or 1 large yellow skinned onion, quartered and sliced

10 pitted prunes, coarsely chopped

1-ounce box or 1/4 cup golden raisins

2 cups good quality, low sodium chicken stock, available in paper containers on soup aisle

Spice blend:

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin

1 1/2 teaspoons sweet paprika, eyeball it

1/2 teaspoon ground coriander, eyeball it

1/2 teaspoon tumeric, eyeball it

1/8 teaspoon cinnamon, a couple pinches


1 1/2 cups chicken stock

1 1/2 cups couscous

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, eyeball it

2 scallions, finely chopped


Chopped cilantro leaves or flat-leaf parsley

Finely chopped scallions

Mango chutney, any variety and brand -- available on the condiment or International food aisles


Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium high heat. Add extra-virgin olive oil, 2 turns of the pan, in a slow stream, and add smashed garlic. Season the chicken with seasoning blend. Scatter chicken around the pan in an even layer. Cook chicken pieces 2 minutes on each side to brown, then add the onions, prunes, raisins and stock. Mix spices in a small dish and scatter over the pot. Cover and reduce to moderate heat. Cook 7 or 8 minutes, remove the lid and stir.

To prepare the couscous, bring chicken stock to a boil. Add couscous, extra-virgin olive oil and scallions and remove the couscous from the stove immediately. Cover and let stand 5 minutes. Fluff the couscous with a fork.

Uncover chicken and cook another 2 to 3 minutes to thicken slightly. Adjust the seasoning, to taste, and serve chicken on a bed of couscous. Garnish with chopped cilantro and scallions. Serve with chutney."

Now, I didn't have all the ingredients. Instead of prunes, I used a couple of tablespoons of Morello Cherry jam. I threw in half a jar of green olives that were hanging out in the refrigerator. What's Moroccan food without olives?I also used a basic poultry seasoning that I had which worked really well. It is important to dry the chicken with a paper towel before putting the seasoning on it. It browns better that way. I ignored the paragraph on condiments (didn't have any of those ingredients) and cooked it for 25 minutes on low heat and not the 8 minutes as suggested.

I thought 2 cups of chicken stock was too much as it was too liquidy. Thankfully, I had a big bottle of Wondra Quick-Mixing Flour that we had purchased for the Thanksgiving gravy. My brother-in-law, Dr. Thanksgiving, super-chef extraordinaire (oncologist by day) swears by it, and now I will too. I shook a tablespoon worth over the pot and all that liquid magically turned into a luxurious and creamy stew. Thank you, Dr. Thanksgiving!

Here are the comments from my family:

5-year old Chocolate: This looks gross but it tastes very good! This is the best lunch ever!

8-year old Vanilla: This is the best lunch YOU ever made! (I nodded and smiled knowingly, not wanting to press the issue. He read my recent post on Dorothy and is still reeling from the fact that I wrote that she was not a very good cook).

Prince Charming: Oh my god! This is amazing! Cinnamon, how did you do it? This really is fantastic!

I think I should get over that scratchy voice and watch more Rachel Ray shows on the FoodNetwork. Right?




Vanessa said...

You're really lucky to have such an appreciative family. Currently Isobel proclaims "yuck, that's yucky" to every single thing that is put in front of her. Charming, eh?

sutapa said...

I read every post of yours in the evening.My knowledge of wines is very limited , so yours and truffle's post was very educative. I agree with dear chocolate that the dish does not look very eye catching , but going by your culinary skills I do believe it must have been extreme tasty. All your posts are thoroughly enjoyable.


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