|Mrs. Gaden’s Tagine|
I had to wonder if Bill’s tagines came into Mrs. Gaden’s possession when she and Ann wrote “The Best of Near Eastern Cookery; Favorite dishes from the Balkans, Turkey, Israel, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and other countries of the Arabian Peninsula”. Or perhaps when she wrote “Biblical Herb Garden Cookbook” in 1974 or its follow-up, “Biblical Garden Cookery” in 1975. Whatever their origins, I was delighted to have the tagines on loan and set out to make my very first effort in one. Since Mrs. Gaden died at the age of 89 in 1998, I couldn’t ask her for advice. Instead I went to the source all culinary knowledge, “the Google”, as we are fond of calling it. There I got quite a shock.
|The Crock Pot: Recommended
Stand-In for the Tagine
It turns out that the word ‘tagine’ can be applied to both the vessel now in my possession or the manner in which the dish is prepared. The idea behind the chimney on the two piece tagine was to capture the steam rising out of the dish and return it to what was cooking. But almost universally, I was advised not to cook in the tagine. On an E-How video featuring an impressive Canadian woman, I was pressed not to use Mrs. Gaden’s tagines in the oven or on the stovetop. “Pierre Henri,” our ample hostess announced, “makes one that’s stove proof.” Now I am a huge fan of Paula Wolfert, the American doyenne of Moroccan cooking, and even she was not keen on my cooking in the tagines. This is because these glazed ceramic dishes cannot withstand high temperatures and may very easily crack and break under heat. Since they were on loan, I hardly wanted to test out their durability. But what astonished me is that recipe after recipe suggested using a Crock Pot for the dish. Of course, I have a Crock Pot but I only pull these out to make Chili on rare occasions. I don’t see the point of the Crock Pot. Sure it cooks all day and if the cover doesn’t fit, it will perfume the kitchen from morning till night with…chili. But virtually every single recipe calls for the browning of ingredients before their immersion into the pot. If you skip this step, you’re fairly well guaranteed a colorless mess in the end with no caramelization at all. Supposing you want to prepare something for dinner. The browning is going to have to take place before you head off to work in the morning. Do you really want to brown meat at that hour? I do not.
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 skinless, boneless chicken thighs, cut
into 1-inch pieces
1 large onions, thinly sliced
2 large carrots, thinly sliced
1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes sliced fine
1/2 cup chopped dried apricots
1 cup chicken broth
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 tsp. garlic salt
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
Salt to taste
1 5.9 oz. package of Couscous
1 1/4 cups Chicken Stock
Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Place the chicken pieces in the heated oil; stir and cook until the chicken is browned on all sides but not cooked through. Remove the skillet from the heat.
Place the browned chicken on the bottom of a slow cooker.
Layer the onion, carrots, sun-dried tomatoes, and apricots over the chicken.
Whisk together the chicken broth, tomato paste, lemon juice, flour, garlic salt, cumin, ginger, cinnamon, and ground black pepper in a bowl. Pour the broth mixture into the slow cooker with the chicken and vegetables. Cook on High Setting for
5 hours, or on Low setting for 8 hours.
Bring water or chicken stock* to boil in a saucepan. Stir in couscous, and remove from heat. Cover, and let stand about 5 minutes, until liquid has been absorbed. Fluff with a fork.
*Chicken stock will amp up the flavor of
Place couscous on the base of the tagine,
ladle chicken mixture on top. Serve at table
with tagine tops lifted all at once, for drama.