Marrakech ExpressIt was one of the first cool days in September when I felt my taste buds tingle for the layered tastes of fall, and I couldn’t help but think of chili or a delicious gumbo. But now it’s November—and as we approach Thanksgiving—my tastes are changing. I feel tired of heavy flavors and am longing for the unexpected. So I looked through all my old recipes and came across this one, torn from a newspaper years ago. It’s Moroccan inspired and I think it was meant to be cooked in the traditional clay vessel called a tagine. I love this dish during the holidays because it’s exotic and tastes fresh.

Chicken Tagine
3 tblsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup split almonds, toasted
8 chicken thighs
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp.-plus black pepper
1 Spanish (yellow) onion, large dice
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. ground turmeric
1 tsp. ground cardamom
1 tsp. ground ginger
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
2 1/2 cups chicken stock (or half stock, half white wine)
1 tblsp. honey
1/2 cup prunes
1/2 cup dried apricots
2 tsp. cornstarch mixed with
2 tsp. water (a slurry)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Heat olive oil a small Dutch oven or deep skillet and “fry” the almonds until light brown. Drain on a paper towel. Set aside.

Rinse and pat dry thighs. Lightly sprinkle with salt, pepper and paprika and fry on high heat until skin is brown and crispy. Drain on paper towels.
Reduce heat and sauté onions and garlic until soft. Add spices and deglaze the pan with stock. Add honey and fruit, bring to a boil and stir in the cornstarch slurry. Put the chicken back into the pot, cover and put in the oven for 1 hour. Garnish with almonds and serve with couscous. Serves 6.

1 package plain couscous
1/2 red onion, small dice
1/2 red pepper, small dice
3 tblsp. olive oil

Cook couscous according to package directions, toss with other ingredients and serve with chicken.