"The best times you are going to have in life are at the dinner table and in bed." Old Italian saying. So relax, and enjoy the simple things!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Chicken Tagine with Sweet Potatoes and Prunes: French Fridays with Dorie

Chicken Tagine with Sweet Potatoes and Prunes
Chicken Tagine with Sweet Potatoes and Prunes

I know it is Halloween, but I got a little concerned about Dorie's description of this dish's "haunting" fragrances... I was concerned that the exoticness of this dish would scare off my family, and of course, I have a stereotype in my head about prunes = old ladies + need for fiber...

I tried to stay open minded. Reading through the ingredients I was thrilled to get to use some more star anise, since I don't have a clue what to do this expensive spice without Dorie's direction.

I noticed that I did not have any saffron and after hunting around in a few gourmet shops I realized why: $18 for a few threads...WOW. I have quite a treasure chest of expensive herbs now thanks to Dorie.

OK, so the results... well, I loved the vegetables the onions, sweet potatoes and even the PRUNES were scrumptious. The chicken was very tender, but I really want to know why I had to bother browning all those thighs when the skin doesn't stay crisp and mostly falls off in the dutch oven??? 

So, Dorista's please enlighten me... is there culinary importance to browning the meat, since we don't use the browned bits to make a sauce or... what? I need to know or I am just going to buy skinless chicken next time.

Well, that star anise turned out to be an issue for my daughter and I... I found the smell of it distracting. I could barely taste any of the other seasoning... especially the saffron because it was just too aromatic for this dish. I will skip it next time, and put more cayenne because I found the dish to be too sweet. The seasoning is interesting but it needs to be balanced... this not one of my favorite recipes.

I liked this blogger's version of this dish because she skipped the star anise. Though she also omitted the cayenne, which I think is really important for keeping the flavors balanced.



Note: As a member of French Friday's with Dorie I am not allowed to print the recipe. I invite you to take a look at this wonderful cookbook "Around My French Table" if you are interested in this or any other recipe I review. 

 






24 comments:

  1. This looks so delicious. I haven't really experimented with making any french dishes. This one, however, I think I will.

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    1. I never cooked French food before joining this cooking group. The recipes from this cookbook are really exceptional.

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  2. We took a pass on the star anise and saffron (used fenugreek and turmeric) - I knew the star anise would not go over so well. Also went with skinless tenders, lightly sauteed before throwing into the tagine. It didn't seem to present any issues.
    I thought the prunes ended up being the best part of the dish!
    And yes, my spice collection has grown slightly out of control since FFwD...

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    1. Sounds like you nailed it. I agree the prunes were delicious and I really liked the onions too.

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  3. Love Tagines. Last week I found a Tagine at TJ Maxx for $14.99 normally $90 so I bought it. It was an interesting way to cook. I'll have to try this chicken tagine in it.

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    1. What an incredible buy... there really are some good quality cooking equipment to be found in TJ Maxx and Marshalls too. Let me know how it goes in the new pot.

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  4. Good question! I'm curious to see the answers. Is it just so that it looks better? Or maybe the flavor of the chicken is better then because of the browning because you don't scrape up the brown bits, but in theory the chicken skin is now a bit brown bit. Ok, I'm just embarrassing myself now, I'll stop and wait for others to chime in.

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    1. I hope some folks give me some in put. I'll have to just try it skinless and see if it makes a different. There is fat in the skin which could add flavor?

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  5. I had the same thought about the chicken. The browned chicken with its crispy skin looked perfect, and then it softened up during the braise. Bummer. Originally I was thinking of roasting the chicken next time and serving on top, but reading about the other Doristas who used boneless thighs, I'll try that route first. When I ate leftovers tonight, I noted how the meat was permeated with the flavors from the sauce. I'd give that up if I cooked the chicken separately. Have a great weekend.

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    1. This is definitely an interesting dilemma. I'm thinking if I ever made this dish in the summer and cooked the chicken on the grill???

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  6. I used boneless and skinless thighs because I was looking to cut down the cooking time. I think that browning the meat just helps give it and the skin better flavor. Were I to use bone-in thighs with skin, I would have probably browned them in the pot with the onions anyways. I can't imagine why that wouldn't make the sauce even more amazing.

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    1. So I'm going skinless next time unless I decide to put the chicken on top and enjoy the crisp skin... it seems that most people went skinless.

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  7. Sorry you didn't enjoy this one, but I had to laugh when you talked about the prunes. One way I have gotten away from thinking about them in that way is by referring to them as dried plums. They seem to lose their stigma that way. I agree with you about the star anise. This is the second dish we have used it with for FFwD and I think I would prefer to skip it next time. I can't imagine ever using more than one point! I used boneless skinless thighs because I thought it would be easier to eat. The meat was so nice and moist.

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    1. The meat really was moist and I really enjoyed the vegetables too.

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  8. I noticed a whole anise star in your top picture. Did you use the whole thing? Mite be why it was so strong. Recipe called for one point of the star. It can be a very strong liquorice flavor if use too much. Try it again sometime with less.

    Looks delicous.

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    1. Thank you so much. That is exactly what I did. I remember reading one point but because I'm not familiar with star anise it didn't sink in, no wonder the taste was too strong.

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  9. I love the sentence prunes = old ladies + need for fiber...!
    I removed the skin before browning, because I have exactly what happened to many who left it on, greasy and awful. But the tagine looks awesome!

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  10. Hmmmm I used a whole piece of the star anise too. I assumed that was one point. Whoops! I didn't think it was too strong but maybe I just don't know the flavor well enough. I thi I will try this with chicken thighs next time too.

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    1. Who would think it would pack so much flavor.

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  11. When I see that I'm going to be cooking meat until it is very tender but the recipe asks you to brown the meat, generally it is only for the color (and to impart some of the meat's flavor to the dish) and I opt to skip that step.
    Star anise is helpful to make your own chai spice (you can check my blog for a recipe, I made chai snickerdoodles last year) and there are plenty of dishes that I use it in... but then I like to cook Vietnamese food a lot and it is one of the main spices in that cuisine.

    Also, here in England, Saffron is SO much cheaper. I can get you some quality saffron threads for $7-8 and in a pretty decent quantity, if you are interested, send me an email :) I would be happy to send you some, if you would send the money for it.

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    1. Thank you for your info on the meat... I do get braising beef because it seals juices and adds flavor, but I didn't get the chicken skin... color. Thank you also for your offer of the saffron I just told a local friend what I paid and he will get it for me cheaper next time I buy it. I think I paid premium cost in a gourmet grocery store.

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  12. Diane, your Chicken Tagine has a wonderful rich and warm color and you added the prunes too! As the friendly commentators before me pointed out, star anise should not be used whole in this dish, only one point required - otherwise the taste is way too overpowering.

    Have a good weekend!

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  13. I liked this tagine, Diana, but I would be surprised if most kids found this dish very tasty. It's such a different smell and taste. The flavoring is not what we're used to day in and day out but that's why I enjoyed it and even loved having leftovers. Not something I will make again soon but I will make it again. I actually doubled the spices and left the skin on the chicken thighs. I served it at a dinner party and everyone (including me) cleaned their plates.

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