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02 June 2013 @ 04:37 pm
BZ's Not Actually BBQ Theatre  
So, as you may or may not know, I used to have a lot of fun doing little (or not so little) photo tutorials for barbecuing. However, when we sold the house, we actually sold the BBQ smoker as part of it, and I haven’t had time or resources to spend on making a new one.

But, Morgan and I recently decided to try our hands at some other cooking techniques, and this one in particular I thought would lend itself to that “how-to” style, so I decided to pull out my phone and take some (actually a lot) of pictures to document the process.

A few weeks ago, Morgan went to a friend’s birthday party, which included a really tasty stew that he made in a tagine. The Tagine is a clay pot that’s normally associated with Moroccan cooking, but also shows up in some other North African cuisines. They’re basically shaped like a big conical flower pot, with a small hole in the side that allows steam to vent. You load it up with a little oil, veggies, meats, spices, and some cooking liquid, put it into an oven or over low heat, and let it go for hours, ending up with a big pot of deliciousness at the end.

Morgan really enjoyed it, and was interested in trying to use one herself, so after some discussion and shopping around, we picked one up last paycheck. (We found one we really liked at Sur La Table for $20. You can find smaller ones for even less. You do want to season the tagine before cooking, which we did the weekend we bought it, but I’m skipping that here. If you buy one, just set aside a day or so to get it ready before the first use.)

Here are our ingredients for today’s experiment:

2.5 lbs. of chicken legs
4 large carrots, peeled and cut into “planks”.
4 potatoes, cut into wedges
1 large onion cut into rings
1 small onion, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, chopped
1/3 c. olive oil
½ c. chicken stock or water
1 tsp. turmeric
1 tsp. peppercorns
1 tsp. coriander seed
½ tsp. cumin
½ tsp. paprika
2 tsp. salt
1 small piece of fresh ginger
½ of a lime

Start by drizzling enough olive oil into the bottom of the tagine to lightly coat it, and swish it around to get good coverage of the entire base.

Then, layer the onion rings on the bottom of the dish, followed by the carrots.

Around this time you realize your chicken isn’t 100% defrosted, so pop it quickly in the microwave or under some gently running water, and let’s work on the spice blend instead.
Put your peppercorns and coriander seed into a mortar and pestle (or spice grinder) and go to town.

Once they’re fully pulverized, add the paprika, turmeric, and cumin, and mix thoroughly.

You can also finish chopping up the second onion, potatoes, and garlic if you haven’t already done so.

Once the chicken is ready, place it on top of the carrots, then surround / cover it with the potato wedges.

Top that off with the chopped garlic, onion, salt, and spices.
Drizzle the remaining oil over top of the assembled food, then grate the ginger over the top. (I used about a teaspoon and a half’s worth of ginger, personally.)

Then, go ahead and add your cooking liquid into the bowl. I went for chicken stock in this case, but water is fine too if you don’t have stock. You won’t need a lot, because the tagine will trap the steam and keep re-circulating it through the pot as it cooks.

Finally, add the juice from your lime, and then place the cover on. You’ll notice that not everything fit perfectly into the base, but because I left the “rim” clear, it fits snugly.

Open your oven and adjust your racks so you can put the tagine inside. The oven should be cold at this point – when cooking with terracotta or earthenware pots, you always want to start with a cold oven so you won’t risk cracking the dish.
Place the tagine in the oven, and I set the temperature to 300 degrees. You don’t want to go higher than 325, because that risks damaging the tagine.

We’re going to let this cook up for the next three or four hours, and should have something pretty damn tasty once it’s done! Some recipes say you can open the tagine after an hour to rotate your chicken pieces, I’m probably going to just let it go.

I'll report back with the results in a few hours. :) Hopefully this gives you guys some fun ideas!

And now, the epic conclusion...

So, after about three and a half hours, the smell was just too good to resist.

We popped it out of the oven, and let the tagine cool for about ten minutes. (Note: You need towels, or silicone oven mitts, or both, to get this safely out of the oven.)

With the lid off...

Aww, yeah. The meat basically melted right off the bones, the potatoes were somewhere between roasted and steamed, and the onions and carrots finished it off nicely.

I gave it a nice stir before serving, and it looks like this:

Yum. My only regret is we didn't have any pita bread to go with it. Gotta remember that for next time.