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Chicken Tagine with Dried Figs

  (Serves 6)

Tagines are North African stews, named after the clay "tagine" pots in which they are cooked. Peter first discovered tagines at a wonderful outdoor cooking class at the Hotel Agafay, located in a 150-year-old Kasbah or desert fortress in the foothills of the Atlas Mountains near Marrekesh.

Ingredients

1 whole chicken (4-5lbs) cut into 8 pieces
Salt and Pepper
2 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, thinly sliced
2 tbsp minced garlic
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 1/4 tsp sweet paprika
1/2 tsp tumeric
2 cups low sodium chicken broth
3 preserved lemon halves, drained, rinsed and chopped
2 medium carrots sliced into 1/4 inch pieces
4 tbsp honey
2 cups fresh figs, trimmed and quartered
Juice of 1 lemon
2 tbsp minced fresh cilantro for garnish

Preparation

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

Heat the olive oil in large Dutch oven over medium heat until hot, but not smoking.

Season the chicken pieces with salt and pepper and brown them in oil until golden on both sides, about 10 minutes total. Remove the chicken to a platter.

Add the onion and coook over medium low heat for 8 minutes until soft. Add the garlic, cayenne pepper, cinnamon, coriander, cumin, paprika, and tumeric, and cook on low heat, stirring often, for 3 minutes.

Add the chicken stock, preserved lemons, carrots and half the honey. Stir well and return the browned legs and thighs to the Dutch oven. Place in the oven and cook for 40 minutes. Then add the chicken breasts and cook for another 20 minutes.

Remove the chicken to a platter and skim the fat from the surface of the sauce. Sitr in the figs, the remaining honey and the juice of one lemon and simmer for 10 minutes while the flavors meld. When the sauce has thickened, serve the tagine on a large platter, placing the chicken pieces on a bed of couscous and spooning the sauce, the lemons and carrots over the dish. Garnish with minced cilantro. And don't forget the Stony Hill Chardonnay!