I was reading the recent Travel and Leisure – Food Edition and stumbled on a picture of a Chicken Tagine served at a gas station in Morocco. The picture caption indicated that it may be the best gas station food you will ever eat – and I believe it! Not wanting to wait for my next trip to Morocco for a delicious meal of what appeared to be an amazingly tasty dish, I studied the picture for a few minutes and then decided to recreate it. On review: it was totally worth it!!!
What you’ll need (my recipe):
- 1.5 Pounds Chicken Thigh
- 3 Limes, skin removed, chopped
- The skin from the above limes, chopped
- 2 Medium Onions, chopped
- 1 12oz can of olives, drained (mixed is best)
- Half the above can of olives hand-crushed
- 1 Medium Mango, chopped
- 1 Red Pepper, sliced
- 2 Inches Ginger, sliced
- 1 Cup Olive Oil (Extra Virgin)
- Seasoning: Italian Seasoning, Cumin, Black Pepper, Sea Salt
- Paprika or Cayenne optional
Prep and Cook time: 50 minutes
In a soup pot, add the chicken, spices, the chopped mango, the ginger, and the chopped lime (not the skin) with about 2 cups of water and turn on high heat to a rolling boil. Being honest, I put the water and chicken in first, turn the heat on, then add the spices while I am chopping all the other ingredients. As you may have seen from my About Me page, I do things as I go along… It just seems to work out for me, though I do occasionally forget ingredients. If you’re going to chop and prep as you go, add the lime first, since that flavor is the most important flavor. After the lime, slice up the ginger and add that. Then get around to the spices, and finally the mango, olives, and pepper. Cover this once all ingredients are added, turn the heat down so that the rolling boil continues, but it doesn’t boil over the pot, and leave it alone while you tend to the onion and lime peels.
While the soup is heating up, chop up the lime peel (this can be done with lemon as well) and the onions and put them in a separate pan on high heat with about 1 tablespoon of coconut oil. Cover this initially to keep the liquid in while they’re heating up – this will speed up the process of caramelizing, and they will taste better that way. I like to use a long thin cut of onion and lime for this dish, rather than square cuts. It takes a bit of extra work, I think, but it’s worth it in the end. They’ll serve like small noodles, and I think they preserve their flavor better that way.
As soon as the pan starts to sizzle, turn the heat down and stir regularly. You want these to caramelize. The onions should turn brown, and a sweet smell should start to waft up from the pan. But you don’t want them to over-cook and burn to the side of the pan. This will be fine for the onions, mostly, but it will ruin the flavor of the lime peel. It’s very important that you take your time on this, and make sure that the lime peel doesn’t overcook.
Once the lime peel and onions have caramelized, add the olive oil and turn the heat down to low. As I mentioned above, it is very important that the lime peel not overcook. Adding the olive oil will slow the cooking process, but really what you want to do is infuse the flavors of the onions and lime in to the olive oil. Keep this on low heat and uncovered, letting any of the liquid in the pan evaporate.
About 5 minutes before serving, add the olive oil mixture to the tagine pot. This should be at about 45 minutes of cook time, and the pot should have a nice stew-coloring, and smell delicious! Let this cook for another 5 minutes with all ingredients combined. Serve in soup bowls.