My Kind Of Art
I got a little carried away by the all the colors in our latest tagine attempt - all those oranges and purples and pinks! I'm getting a big kick out of combining different ingredients in the tagine to find out which work best. It's almost like composing an artwork when the colors are so bright. Having zero artistic talent, myself, I need to rely on vegetables for my fun.
I tried a few new things this time - cooking the rice right along with the meat; adding a new mix of spices; adding radishes to my usual carrots; pairing the sweetness of carrots and shallots with the tingly tartness of Meyer lemon, rind and all. So each time I assemble one of these, all kinds of possibilities are bouncing around in my mind.
What emerged from the tagine after 90 minutes, the last 30 of which were filled with intoxicating scents wafting out of the pot, was a huge success. If I do say so myself. Which I do.
The shallots became sublimely sweet and slippery-tender. The chicken hidden underneath was funky with spices. The radish retained some of its color and added a little hint of that indefinable radishness. The carrots were mellow but not mushy. And the rice! Oh, heavens, people, I could have made a meal of just the rice and still have wanted to spread it on my body. Orgasmic rice! No kidding.
So, here's what I did - I'll be interested to hear your ideas on what else would go well into the magic tagine.
Sunburst Chicken Tagine
4-6 chicken thighs (bone in or not - this time, mine were skinless and boneless)
1 teaspoon each of ground coriander, ground cumin, ground ginger, sweet paprika, and allspice (this may seem like too much spice; it's not! Load it up!)
2 Tablespoons olive oil, divided
2-3 Tablespoons tomato paste
3 carrots, peeled and cut into 4" chunks
1 onion, chopped coarsely
1 cup rice (I used brown jasmine rice)
2 cups chicken stock
4 large shallots, peeled but left whole
l or 2 large watermelon radishes (or regular radishes, a handful)
l Meyer lemon, sliced into 8 wedges (you could use a regular lemon, I'm sure)
Green beans (optional)
A handful of mushrooms, washed and left whole (optional) (I used brown ones)
Pistachios or cashews (optional)
Start the tagine on low flame (only for ones that are rated for stovetop use), and pour in 1 Tablespoon of the oil. Add the spices and s&p, whisking them together to make a slurry. Dredge the chicken pieces in the slurry, turning to coat, then set them aside.
Add the other tablespoon of oil and soften the onions before adding the rice. Toss the rice in the slurry until grains are coated, then add the chicken stock and stir.
Add the chicken pieces back in and place all the vegetables and the lemon wedges, except the mushrooms, green beans, and nuts, on top of the chicken.
Cover and simmer for about 90 minutes. When the tagine starts to smell as if it dropped straight from heaven, add the mushrooms and green beans to cook for the last 20 minutes or so, until the beans are still bright green but tender.
Fill the plates with a little of each of the ingredients (especially that killer rice!) and sprinkle with the nuts for texture.