Fruity Chicken Tagine with Argan Oil

Fruity Chicken Tagine
Fruity Chicken Tagine

As well as boasting a range of skincare and beauty benefits, argan oil is wonderful for cooking, although the process for making culinary argan oil differs slightly. Argan nuts are lightly toasted before being pressed to give the oil a distinctive creamy, nutty taste and golden brown color.

Argan oil adds richness and sweetness to various sweet and savory dishes, and you can use it to make sauces and dressings. Drizzle it over a salad or even a dessert to add a luxurious texture and finish it beautifully. You can also use it in roasts, soups, tagines and more. Whether you choose to dip bread into argan oil and enjoy it as an appetizer, or add this oil to other recipes, its toasted, creamy character is sure to add plenty of flavor to any dish you choose to make.

Culinary argan oil is often used as a finishing ingredient rather than for high-heat frying or cooking. It is also more expensive than some other types of cooking oil but that doesn’t matter because a little goes a long way. You can cook with this versatile oil, and it is a worthy addition to your kitchen cupboard. If you usually reach for the olive oil or vegetable oil, give argan oil a try instead and you will be pleasantly surprised how delicious it is when added to recipes.

The following recipe is for an authentic Moroccan chicken tagine. You will need a 10 to 12 inch (25 to 30cm) tagine dish or else you can use a heavy skillet. This recipe makes four servings. We are using chicken along with various warm spices, onion and garlic, fresh herbs, honey, apricots and more, for a hearty, full-flavored tagine the whole family will love. This dish boasts sweetness, warm spices, savory flavors and fresh tastes in every mouthful.

What You Need:

1 whole chicken (about 3 lbs or 1.4kg)
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
6 tablespoons culinary argan oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 red onion
4 garlic cloves
5 sprigs fresh flat-leaf parsley
5 sprigs fresh cilantro
1 1/2 cups (375ml) water
2 tablespoons honey
1 cinnamon stick (about 3 inches or 7 1/2 cm long)
Medium handful dried apricots
Small handful cup whole blanched almonds

How to Make It:

Cut the chicken into 6 pieces and discard the backbone and wings. Stir the ginger, cinnamon, pepper, turmeric, 1 teaspoon of salt and 2 tablespoons of argan oil together. Now add the chicken pieces and turn to coat well. Put the butter and 1 tablespoon of argan oil in a tagine or skillet and warm it up. Brown half of the chicken in the uncovered tagine or skillet, skin side down. Turn it over and cook for a further 10 minutes. Transfer the chicken pieces to a plate and repeat with the rest of the chicken. You can also add any of the spice mixture still left in the bowl.

Cut the red onion in half and then into 1/4 inch (2/3 cm) slices. Now add it to the tagine with 1/4 teaspoon of salt and cook, uncovered, for 8 minutes. Give the mixture a stir occasionally. Finely chop the garlic and add it to the mixture. Cook for 3 minutes. Tie the parsley and cilantro together with string and add this to the tagine, plus 1/2 cup of water, the chicken, and any juices still left on the plate. Turn the heat down and simmer covered for half an hour.

Meanwhile bring the rest of the water, the honey, apricots (separated into halves) and cinnamon to a boil in a heavy pot, then turn the heat down and simmer uncovered until the apricots are tender. You might need to add some more water. When the apricots are soft, continue to simmer the mixture for 12 minutes or until the liquid has reduced to a glaze.

While the apricot mixture is cooking, you can heat the rest of the argan oil in a small skillet and cook the almonds in there for a minute or 2, or until golden. Drain them on paper towels. Add the apricot mixture to the tagine about 10 minutes before the chicken is done. Discard the cinnamon stick and herb bundle. Divide the chicken between 4 warmed serving plates and serve immediately with the almonds sprinkled over the top.

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