There are really only two Moroccan restaurants anywhere in the Portland area and one of them is way too far away. The other one is downtown, and it seems like the older I get the less I feel like venturing across the river. Anytime I see an address of a restaurant that has the dreaded cardinal direction “W” in it I find myself immediately disinterested. Why can’t I just exist within a little bubble the size of, say, a two-mile radius around my house?
Whenever I do get up the energy to brave the bridges and go downtown, I feel like I need to step outside of my comfort zone and try something new and crazy. I figure that if got myself all the way down here, I better make the most out of the experience. On one of these excursions I took a giant leap out of my comfort zone and made reservations at a Moroccan restaurant. This restaurant really had all the bells and whistles, including poufs on the floor instead of chairs, rosewater hand washing to begin your meal, and belly dancers that you have to awkwardly look at while you are eating, as if you are in a strange strip club in an alternate universe. Or so I would imagine, as I’ve never been to one. An alternate universe, that is.
I’ve been back to that restaurant many times since that fateful first venture, yet I’m entirely unable to order anything other than the Apricot Chicken Tagine. Lord help me, this plate of sweet, spiced chicken and tender apricots just hits the spot. It hits all the spots, I tell you! Every. Single. Spot.
I decided that I wanted to try to recreate the dish at home (from memory) which wasn’t exactly easy. Since I’m also very lazy I wanted to make it in the pressure cooker to cut back on some of the cooking time. If you don’t own a pressure cooker, don’t fret! I’ll provide instructions below for using a regular Dutch oven.
some a lot of experimentation, I’m very happy with this dish and am ready to share it with all of you. A serving is under 400 calories and it REALLY fills you up. Boy, aren’t you just lucky?
I give you, the Moroccan Chicken Tagine:
Is that not the darkest chicken you’ve ever seen? The husband was eating the leftovers for two days before he realized it was chicken. He doesn’t have the most refined palette in the world, which is great for me because he’ll eat pretty much anything and I’m a terrible restaurant food order-er.
The chicken is tossed with flour and Moroccan spices prior to being seared in the bottom of a hot pressure cooker (or Dutch oven). I use a Fagor brand pressure cooker and a Martha Stewart Dutch Oven (you can find both on my Kitchen Stuff page). The chicken comes out of the pot, and the ginger, onions, and garlic go in. The pot gets de-glazed with broth before the apricots and tomatoes are added, then the chicken pieces find their way back into the mix. Bring the concoction to high pressure over high heat, then reduce the heat to maintain the pressure and process for 5-7 minutes. If you’re using a Dutch oven, simply bring the mixture to a boil, reduce it to a simmer, and cook for 20-25 minutes until the chicken is cooked through and the apricots are tender. Stir in some honey, almonds, and chick peas and serve with couscous.
Here’s the recipe:
Makes: 6 Servings
- 2 large boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch cubes
- 1/2 c. dried apricot halves, roughly chopped
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 2 c. fat free chicken broth
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tsp. fresh ginger root, minced
- 1 28-oz. can whole peeled tomatoes
- 1 14-oz. can chick peas, drained
- 1 Tbsp. honey
- 1/8 c. almond slivers
- 2 Tbsp. Moroccan spice mixture (1/2 tsp. cayenne, 1/2 tsp. turmeric, 2 1/2 tsp cumin, 1 tsp. allspice, 1 tsp. cinnamon, 1/2 tsp. coriander)
- 1 Tbsp. flour
- Cilantro for garnish
- Salt and ground black pepper
- In a pie plate, combine the flour and Moroccan spice mixture. Add chicken pieces and toss to coat.
- Heat oil in your pressure cooker over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the chicken pieces and allow to brown for one minute per side. Remove chicken from pressure cooker and set aside.
- Reduce heat to medium and add ginger and onions. Saute for three minutes, until onions are semi-translucent. Add garlic and cook for another minute.
- Add the apricots, whole tomatoes, chicken broth or stock, and browned chicken pieces to the pot.
- Cover, and bring to low pressure over medium-high heat. Once you have reached pressure, cook for eight minutes then remove from heat and release the pressure using the quick release method (open the steam valve).
- Stir in the chick peas, almonds, and honey and let them warm for a few minutes.
- Check your chicken for done-ness and taste the tagine. Adjust salt and pepper as needed. Serve over couscous and garnish with cilantro leaves.
*If using a Dutch Oven instead, follow steps 1-4 as described, then bring the mixture to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook for 20-25 minutes or until apricots are tender. Continue with step 6.
Nutrition (per serving):
396 calories, 9 g. fat, 24 g. protein, 59 g. carbs, 15 g. fiber. WW PointsPlus: 10