Though I was born & raised in the North of France, my family originally comes from warmer climates. For this reason, the flavors of my childhood are multiple and diverse and do not stop at the national border of my native country. On Sundays, it was not unusual to enjoy the French classic of “Poulet Rôti” and the crispy oven potatoes on the side would never disappoint us. However, i must admit that the more exciting days where those when, instead of the familiar roasted chicken, my parents would take out the colorful clay tagine pot, fire up the oven and prepare the Moroccan twist of this timeless classic!
15 years later, I have my own Tagine. A sober black clay beauty from the French maker Emile Henry, and I have used it for countless variation of this dish for as long as I have been cooking!
Now, the great part of this dish is that not only it is virtually mess-free (you’ll only need 1 pot for the whole process) but it is by far the most versatile recipe ever invented. You can make it as simple or as complex as you feel confident; the spice mix can be as mild or as provocative as you dare and the risk of dry meat is suddenly gone, as the main process is to ensure that it cooks with the steam created from within the clay pot!
And finally, there is the incredible pride of bringing the dish to the table and lifting the pointy cap to reveal the gorgeously sun colored slow cooked meat underneath!
Ingredients: 1 whole chicken, ~1 kg potatoes peeled, 3-4 onions, 4 cloves of garlic, 2 organic lemons (if not – regular ones washed), 1.5 generous teaspoon of turmeric (curcuma), 1/4 ts paprika powder, a dash of cinnamon (or a full stick if you have) , salt & pepper, a tablespoon of mustard (grainy, regular, Dijon, whatever you have is fine :)) 1 teaspoon of brown sugar (honey or brown syrup are fine too), some fresh herbs (rosemary, thyme, oregano…). Optional: Chickpeas, green olives (pit removed), few shallots, 1/2 preserved lemon and any spice that tickle you!
- Peel & place your onions & potatoes in a oven proof dish ( ideally a Tagine, but anything that can be covered is fine), place your chicken in the center, salt & pepper & stuff with some herbs onion & garlic.If you have, you can also add a few whole shallots, olives, chickpeas and 1/2 preserved lemon*, cut in rough squares
- Cover with the prepared marinade, and let rest at room temperature for 40 minutes or in the fridge for up to 12 hours ( i.e this can be prepared in advance).
- Right before cooking in the oven – Slice the lemon and place the circles around in the dish and on the chicken!
- Place in the center of the oven, to slow cook for 1.5 – 2 hours at around 175C. resist the temptation to open for the first hour, then you can adjust by adding some white wine or water to make sauce. If there is too much juices, then Take out the chicken, let it rest covered and leave the sauce & potatoes to reduce under a stronger oven for 20 minutes or more
Serve presented in the Tagine, with green beans, roasted paprikas & eggplant and Tahini sauce.
*Preserved lemons can be found in most oriental shops in Helsinki ( i buy mine in Ararat @Kalasatama) or occasionally in summer time, when lemons are abundant & organic, I prepare my own! (recipe to follow)