Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Chicken Tagine (AIP)

I've been a busy bee, and I've been making lots of changes. I didn't manage to eat as cleanly as I wanted to with #30daysofclean, but I did make a final push to make the last week count. I'm not mad or beating myself up. Even though I could have done much better, I took it as a learning opportunity. I do better with short term goals and challenges. And that's ok. Instead of giving up altogether, I now know that I should make my goals and challenges daily or weekly instead of monthly. Biting off small bites more often is a lot more effective than trying to bite off too much at once and feeling overwhelmed. And I do get overwhelmed easily. I'm learning to admit what my weaknesses are so I can work around them instead of beating myself up for what I can't do.

And I'm learning to revel in what I can do. And to revel in what I enjoy doing. Like cooking and researching and sharing the results. Like sharing good food and good times with friends and family. Like reaching out and meeting new people and trying new things.

If you haven't tried anything new lately, check out this Chicken Tagine (pronounced kinda like tuh-jean) recipe. Tagine is a stew-like dish from North Africa. It's named after the clay pot that it's usually cooked in. The dish is swimming in flavor, and it's hard to overcook. Plus it sits on the stove, simmering away, which makes it a great weeknight dish if you throw everything together the night before.

Chicken Tagine (AIP)
1 stick Ceylon cinnamon
¼ tsp cloves
1 tsp black peppercorns (optional/omit for AIP)
4 cloves garlic
1 inch ginger, peeled
1 handful fresh cilantro leaves or 1 tbsp dried
4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 large fermented lemon*
1 large pinch saffron
2 bay leaves
1 3-4 lb whole chicken
2 tbsp coconut oil
1 large onion, sliced thick
½ cup fresh or canned green olives (not marinaded or brined)
1 cup chicken broth

In a small skillet, toast the cinnamon, cloves, and peppercorns (if using). Once fragrant, add to spice grinder and grind until fine.* Add the spice mixture, garlic cloves, ginger, cilantro, olive oil, lemon juice, fermented lemon, and saffron to a food processor. Blend until a thick puree. If the mixture is too thick, alternate adding 1 tbsp olive oil or lemon juice until it's well mixed. The mixture should still be more paste-like than liquid. Add the bay leaves and stir. Cut up the chicken into 6-8 pieces (legs, thighs, wings, breasts). Layer the chicken pieces in a bowl with the marinade, making sure to coat as thoroughly as possible. Cover tightly and refrigerate. Marinate at least 2 hours but preferably overnight. Once marinated, remove chicken and reserve marinade. In a tagine pot or dutch oven, heat coconut oil. Add in the chicken to the pan and lightly brown, about 3-4 minutes per side. Remove chicken and set aside on a plate. Add onions to the pot and cook until they start to brown, about 3-4 minutes. Return chicken and all the juices to the pot, trying to keep chicken in one layer if possible. Add marinade, olives, and chicken broth. Cover tightly and cook on medium low heat 30-35 minutes or until chicken is cooked through (180°F with a meat thermometer). Remove bay leaf and serve with juices spooned over chicken pieces.

Suggested sides:
Apricot 'Couscous' (Recipe coming soon)
Moroccan-Spiced Veggies (Recipe coming soon)

*If you don't have fermented lemons, you can add lemon zest, lemon pulp, and or lemon juice to this dish, but it will definitely taste VERY different from the original recipe. Fermented lemons are a lovely concoction is that zesty, tangy, and salty all in one. Because of the fermentation process, you can use the whole lemon including the rind. The taste of fermented lemons is very hard to replicate. If you skip the fermented lemons, you'll need to add more salt to the recipe.
**If you don't have all the whole spices, you can sub 2 tsp cinnamon and ¼ tsp ground cloves. The flavor will be a little less aromatic but should still taste delicious.