From Nonna's Kitchen: Once Upon A Tajine (A Lovely Trip to Morocco)
I have come to realize that one of the unexpected benefits of this project is how much better of a cook I have become by cooking with Nonnas. After culinary school, I began to believe that having the degree meant that I knew it all. Even complicated recipes didn’t seem that intimidating and I was very comfortable in the kitchen.
However, I can safely say that my Heirloom Kitchen has taught me so much more than culinary school ever did. Old world methods, recipes you many not think will work, but definitely do. In fact, you see how a few simple ingredients can be transformed into a dish families have (and will) enjoy for generations.
The most recent stop on my global tour was Morocco. A charming woman, Safoi, introduced me to North African cuisine, a type of food I hadn’t yet explored. Most importantly, she explained the benefits and infinite uses of a tajine, a cooking vessel used in so many Moroccan recipes. It’s made of earthenware, and has a domed top that returns all condensation to the food, keeping everything moist (genius!). It is perfect for slow-cooked foods. Stews and bone-in chicken dishes are created in this beautiful pot and the flavor is unmatched. Meat falls off the bone and all the flavors marry together. If you invest in one, you may never use your slow cooker again.
Safoi has an incredible immigration story. She came to the States as a Fulbright fellow, as a graduate student at Indiana University. She spoke to me about how she found a balance between immersing herself in American culture and her studies while, at the same time, maintaining her culture and way of life.
Preserving her Moroccan culture at home with her family is incredibly important to her. Her home is filled with artifacts that carry the historical or spiritual significance of her homeland. She also makes sure to maintain Moroccan traditions for her children. This chicken tagine is simple and delicious. The carrots are sweet and create a delicious base. The result is a hearty dish.
If you already own a slow cooker, you don’t have to buy a tajine. However, honestly, now when I place my tajine on the stove and fire it up, I feel like I’ve already arrived in Morocco.
Chicken Tajine with Carrots
Saffron (a pinch)
1 tsp ginger
1 tsp pepper
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup canola oil
1 small yellow onion (minced)
1 ½ lb whole chicken, cut into 8 pieces
7 large carrots
1 cup water
½ cup red olives (Mediterranean or kalamata)
1/2 pickled lemon
1 tb parsley, chopped
In a bowl, mix safran, ginger, salt, pepper, olive oil and canola oil. Clean and thoroughly wash the chicken then cut into 8 pieces.
Arrange them over the finely cut onions then drizzle the spice and oil mix over it inside a cooking tajine (a slow cooker is a good alternative).
Peel and cut the carrots in halves (removing the yellow core). Add carrots to the chicken, then add water and cover.
Let cook on slow heat for 1 hour (add water if necessary).
Add pickled lemon and olives during the last 5 minutes of cooking.
Sprinkle parsley to garnish before serving.