Those of you who follow us on Facebook ( and you really should!) know that I got a slow cooker as a gift. Those of you that follow this blog, know that I am more of a fast cooker type, using fresh ingredients to create seasonal, flavorful and simple dishes. I admit to being a bit intimidated by this concept of slow cooking, and put off trying it out. Finally, on the days leading up to Thanksgiving, I was home long enough to attempt to try it out. First, I did my due diligence, researching recipes, and reading the comments. Many of the readers complained that the cooking times were off. There was lots of conversation about too much liquid, or not enough. Many of the recipes were for dishes I simply don’t care for. Finally, I stumbled upon a recipe for a Moroccan Style Chicken Tagine, with dried apricots and chickpeas. The comments were all favorable, and dish did not disappoint. The rich flavorful stew that accompanies the chicken is hearty and tasty enough to hold its own as a vegetarian dish, with a few minor tweaks ( like losing the chicken!).
I learned a few lessons experimenting with the slow cooker:
Just tossing the ingredients into the pot and turning it on isn’t going to happen very often. Browning meats, sauteing onions, and finishing sauces on the stove top are part of the success of slow cooked foods. This (un) recipe, is adapted from the Kitchn, and requires a bit of before and after work, but the results were worth the extra effort, and the added mess.
Moroccan Chicken Tagine with Apricots and Chickpeas:
Sprinkle chicken pieces with salt and pepper and brown them in olive oil until golden. Work in batches if necessary, until all pieces are done. Transfer them to the slow cooker.
Using the same pan, saute one diced onion and 2 peeled and diced carrots in olive oil, until soft and slightly brown. Add 2 or 3 minced garlic cloves, and a chunk of ginger root, peeled and minced to the pan, and cook for about 1 minute. Add 1 teaspoon or so of cumin, and cinnamon. Continue to saute until mixed. Pour the mixture over the chicken. Add 1 cup of chicken stock, and a few large handfuls of dried apricots, chopped.
Turn the slow cooker up to high, and cook for roughly 4 -5 hours.
Remove the chicken from the cooker, and place on a platter, covered with foil to keep warm. Pour the sauce, including the fruit and vegetables into a pan, add 1 tablespoon of honey, and 1 can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed. Simmer until the sauce reduces a bit and starts to thicken.
Season with salt and pepper to taste. Pour the finished sauce over the chicken and sprinkle with chopped almonds.
Serve on a bed of cous cous and enjoy!
photos: Glasshouse Images