Chicken and potatoes are a classic combination, and in this tasty Moroccan dish you have the added twist of using sweet potatoes and Moroccan spices. They are meant to be cooked in a tagine, the north African earthenware pot of the same name, but you can cook them in any casserole dish if you don’t have a tagine at home.
Tajen Djaj bel Btata Lehleewa (Chicken Tagine with Sweet Potatoes)
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 75 minutes
Cook method: braise
- ¼ cup plus 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- one chicken (approx. 8 lbs.), cut into 8 pieces
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 2 large tomatoes, finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- ¾ lb. white or yellow sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced crosswise (should be one-eighth inch thick)
- 1 tbsp chopped parsley
- cup water
- salt & pepper
1. In a large enameled cast-iron casserole, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Season the chicken with salt and pepper and cook over moderately high heat until lightly browned, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer the chicken to a plate.
2. Add the remaining 3 tablespoons of olive oil to the casserole along with the onion, ginger, cinnamon and 1 teaspoon of freshly ground pepper. Cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the onion is softened, about 7 minutes. Arrange the chicken pieces in the casserole in an even layer. Spread the sweet potato slices over the chicken and season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle evenly with the tomatoes, garlic and parsley. Add the water to the casserole and bring to a simmer. Cover and cook the tagine over low heat until the chicken and sweet potatoes are tender, about 50 minutes.
3. Using a spatula, carefully transfer the sweet potatoes to a large bowl. Add the chicken pieces to the bowl and keep warm. Boil the sauce over high heat until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Pour the sauce over the chicken and sweet potatoes and serve.
The tagine can be prepared ahead of time, step 1 & 2 and refrigerated for up to 3 days. Bring to room temperature before reheating gently.
By Peg Kern
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