Part of my inspiration for cooking this was the desire to use some of the copious quantity of Parsley I had picked. My over-wintered Parsley plants are running to seed now, so I picked most of the useable leaves and am storing them in a Stayfresh bag in the fridge, where they will keep in good condition for at least a week.
Although I recognise that Asparagus is not a traditional North African ingredient, I had a batch of Asparagus spears that I wanted to use while they were still fresh, so I decided to experiment and see whether they would "work".
So this is my dish:
North African Chicken Tagine, with Parsley Cous-cous and Asparagus
This is how I made it...
Cut 2 skinless chicken breasts into small cubes and put then in a deep container
Add a tablespoon of vegetable oil, and the following spices to make a marinade
- 2 cloves crushed garlic
- A 1-inch piece of peeled fresh Ginger, grated
- 2 teaspoons "Ras-al-Hanout" or similar mixed spice condiment
- Quarter teaspoon powdered Cumin
- Quarter teaspoon powdered Cinnamon
- Quarter teaspoon powdered Cloves
- Quarter teaspoon powdered Allspice
- 1 teaspoon Paprika (the hot one or the sweet one, according to taste)
- Approx 1 teaspoon Harissa. (This is what adds the heat, so adjust according to taste)
- Salt and Black Pepper
Mix the whole assembly well, so that every surface of the chicken is coated. Cover with clingfilm and leave in the fridge to marinate for at least an hour.
About an hour before serving time:
- Peel, chop and lightly fry two smallish onions in a deep casserole which has a lid
- When the onions are done, add the marinated chicken and cook over a high heat for about two minutes, until the meat has gone firm and opaque
- Add a regular tin of chopped Tomatoes
- Add a small tin of Chick Peas
- Add approx 8 semi-dried Apricots, halved
- Add about 200 ml chicken stock
- Bring the pan to the boil, turn down the heat, cover the pan and simmer for about one hour.
- Prepare the cous-cous. I used 150g of dried cous-cous for the two of us.
- Wash and chop a generous amount of fresh Parsley
- Have ready about 50g of Raisins and about 25g chopped Pistachios
- Prepare the Asparagus for cooking, removing the tough lower parts of the spears
- Prepare about 250ml of chicken stock
About 15 mins before serving:
- Heat the chicken stock and add sufficient of it to make up the cous-cous. [A good rule of thumb about the amount of stock to use is to use half as much again of the stock, when measured in millilitres, to the weight of cous-cous measured in grams. e.g. 150g cous-cous would require approx 225ml stock.]
- Add the raisins to the cous-cous at this time, to allow them to absorb some of the hot stock.
- Cover the dish / bowl in which you make the cous-cous and allow it to stand for 10 minutes
- Then add the chopped Parsley and Pistachios, and fluff-up the cous-cous with a fork.
About 5 minutes before serving:
- Cook the Asparagus. [I steamed ours over a large pan of boiling water]
As soon as the Asparagus is cooked, plate-up and serve. If there is any spare Parsley, use some of it to garnish the tagine.
We both loved this dish. I had put enough Harissa in it to make it quite "tingly on the mouth", but not too much. This contrasted well with the fragrant spices and the dried fruit. Large quantities of Parsley also gave a very fresh taste to the cous-cous. And finally, the Asparagus really did work well with the other elements of the meal. Its sweetness fitted in very well indeed. A good combination, in my opinion.