Chicken with Cinnamon & Dates
I love the exotic flavours of cinnamon in savoury dishes. This is a wonderful winter dish, as it warms your spirit as well as your toes.
Time: 2 hours
Yield: 6 to 8 servings.
1 tablespoon olive oil, plus 2 teaspoons
1/2 pound (about 2 links) merguez, spicy Italian or lamb sausage, cut in halves or thirds (casings removed, if desired)
6 to 8 skinless chicken thighs
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 large onions, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon white wine, orange juice or water
3 garlic cloves, smashed and coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon hot paprika
1 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth or water
1/2 cup fresh orange juice
About 1/3 cup golden raisins or currants
2 to 3 carrots, cut lengthwise and halved diagonally
12 to 15 pitted dates
1 large orange, cut into 8 wedges
2 to 3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro, plus additional for garnish
Pine nuts, for garnish (almonds can be substituted if you wish)
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place a large Dutch oven (or skillet, if planning to bake in a tagine) over medium-high heat, and add 1 tablespoon olive oil. Add sausage and chicken, and sprinkle with half the salt and pepper. Brown about 5 minutes. Turn, sprinkle with remaining salt and pepper, and brown again about 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate or the bottom of a tagine.
2. Add 1 or 2 teaspoons olive oil to Dutch oven or skillet, as needed, and add onions. Sauté until onions are softened, about 5 minutes. Add wine, and stir, scraping bottom of pan. Add garlic, ginger, cinnamon, cumin and paprika, and stir until garlic and ginger are softened and fragrant, about 3 minutes. Stir in chicken broth, orange juice, raisins and carrots. Return chicken and sausage to pot, or pour onion-carrot mixture over the chicken and sausage in tagine. Add dates and orange wedges, and stir to mix.
3. Cover, and bake until chicken and carrots are fork-tender, about 1 1/2 hours. Taste, and adjust seasonings as needed. Garnish with cilantro and pine nuts. If desired, serve with hot buttered couscous and harissa paste, or chutney.