Tajines really are one of my favourite things to make and eat. Packed with flavour, combinations of sweet, sour, savoury – you can literally chuck anything in there and it’ll be good. The best part is, they don’t require any culinary skills whatsoever, you just put everything together in a pot and voilà!
My favourite kind of tajines are the sweet ones, the first of which I encountered when visiting a friend in Casablanca. Her mum made the most amazing chicken and prune tajine, I was literally crying.
Since I didn’t come across any prunes at the local Sainsbury’s, I decided to go with pears (and it’s kind of the right season for them too).
So give it a try – I promise, this is an easy one.
10 small shallots or baby onions
5 chicken thighs and/or legs, bone in, skin on
1 large shallot, finely sliced
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
4 pears, peeled, quartered and cored
1 preserved lemon, halved (or more if you fancy the taste)
7-10 dried apricots
1 tbsp honey
Start by plunging the baby shallots or onions in boiling water. Leave them in for about 5 minutes. Drain and when cool enough to handle, peel. (This is just to make the peeling part easier).
Season the chicken and fry, skin-side down in a large pot with a swig of oil. Once you have a nice, golden skin, remove from the pan and set aside on a plate.
Sweat the sliced shallot in the same pot in which you fried the chicken – you should have lots of lovely chicken juices in there for the shallot to soak up.
Add the cinnamon and ginger, stir through and sweat a little more. Put the chicken back in the pan, skin-side up and add boiling water until just under the skin (you don’t want to lose all that lovely crispiness). If you are using skinless cuts, then you can go ahead and cover the whole thing with water. Add the preserved lemon.
Cover and leave to simmer for about 15 minutes.
Add the baby shallots, half the pears, the dates and the apricots. Cover again and cook 15 minutes more or until the chicken is cooked through and tender.
Once the chicken is ready, remove it from the pan and reduce the cooking juices. Add the honey and reduce some more until you have a nice, thick liquid. Taste to adjust the seasoning. When you reckon it’s the right consistency and it’s nice and tasty, pop the chicken back in to glaze and warm through.
Meanwhile, melt the butter in a pan and roast the rest of the pears until golden-brown.
Mix everything together, sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve with gluten-free couscous or (I prefer) quinoa!