Tuesday, April 19, 2011

In which Kate wishes she had a tagine or for the weather to clear up already

I love food from the Middle East. Falafel, couscous, stews in a tagine, lots of lamb, really strong coffee, pita, cucumbers, I could go on. There used to be (and for all I know still is) a great restaurant in Salt Lake City called Cedars of Lebanon where I had some fantastic food. There was also Robert's Deli, where I first ate sharwama, but that's gone now.

I came across this week's recipe while searching for a Moroccan chicken dish, all the better to use my preserved lemons. One link led to another, one reason I love the internet, and I found the Chrysalis Voyage site.

Most of the ingredients I had in my kitchen, but I had to look up za'atar. Sumac I had heard of but never tried. Penzey's had both, if I needed, but I tried locally first and lucked out. Fairway Market had both. While I have objection to mixing up my own spice blends, I was in kind of a hurry. It was Friday night, I wanted to relax. 

Being a mistress of making my own life difficult, I went all the way through the market to the cashier only to discover I'd left my wallet at home. Fortunately, I live close enough that they hadn't put the items in my cart away before I went home and back.

I decided to double the marinade recipe, because I was going to be serving four or five people, but I'll put Kim's measurements here:

I use Rock Cornish Hens because I find ½ a hen a nice individual portion, but feel free to use whatever you prefer. Boneless chicken breasts work just as well.
3-4 Rock Cornish Hens or equivalent of your fave chicken pieces
Juice of 2 lemons
¾ C Olive oil
2-4 cloves crushed garlic-to your taste
Very generous pinch of each: cinnamon, nutmeg, turmeric
Salt and Pepper— to your taste
1 T Za’atar
1 T Sumac
1 onion thinly sliced
3-4 T pine nuts

Set aside. In a bowl, mix olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, salt/pepper, cinnamon, nutmeg, turmeric, za’atar, and sumac. Pour in a large Ziploc bag and add hens or chicken pieces marinating in fridge for 6-8 hours, turning the bag over occasionally. Remove hens/chicken pieces from marinade and heat marinade in a separate serving bowl to boiling in the microwave (my sweetie was a little edgy about cooking something in the marinade until I reassured him it was heated to the boiling point first). Set aside marinade. Roast hens in a tagine or oven for about an hour at 350, or until cooked through. Or, you can grill the chicken on the barbeque—also delicious.
The original plan was to descend on Austin the former landlord in a small celebration of the anniversary of my sweetie and I getting our own place. Austin loves grilling and dangit, it's April, even in New England it should feel somewhat like spring. It poured rain all day, so no grill. We ended up roasting the chicken in the oven and they came out very well, but I do want a tagine, like the one at the left.
When hens/chicken is about finished, saute sliced onions and pine nuts in 2-3 T of hen marinade. Put cooked chicken on a large serving platter and scatter onion/pine nuts on top. Sprinkle with a little more sumac and drizzle with a little more marinade, passing the rest at the table.  Recipe serves 6 approximately. (1/2 a Cornish hen for each person)
I toasted the pine nuts first, I find that ends a little bit of flavor, and it only takes a few minutes. The onions and the nuts topped off an already special dish and brought it to a higher level. Eight small chicken breasts served four of us. Next time, though, we grill!
Questions? Comments? Death threats? I'd love to hear from you!

1 comment:

  1. For those of us in the Southwest, you can find a tagine masquerading as something called a cazuela. I have one a long-gone great-aunt gave me as a wedding present. You may have to improvise a top for it, but otherwise it's much the same pot.