Inspired by Cathy's Spicy chicken Thighs with Apricots and Olives, I could not wait to make my own version of this sweet chicken, and serve this to a friend that is coming to visit for lunch. Yes for lunch, why not? after all, I used to have a big lunch when I was growing up, in fact in most country like Europe, and Asia, lunch is "The" big meal on the day, and dinner is just what ever we have left from lunch.
I make tagine on a regular basis because it is pretty easy to make and never failed to impress my family and guest how delicious it can be. Tagine is a North African dishes that cook gently on a unique round and shallow terracotta or clay (glazed or unglazed) pot with conical shape lid. The slow braising on tagine pot, plus the uses of exotic spices is what make the dish unique to me. Unfortunately, I broke many (total of 3 pots, crazy, I know) of my tagine pots due to my clumsiness (and that is, according to my husband). But, it really was not my fault, the tagine pots that I broke were made out of terracotta and were not really good quality. Sorry, I take that back, they were good, all of them, I am just plain clumsy, period! So, my husband bought me the fancier one, and more durable, and been using it since then, still doesn't break. I think it is really durable because I remember I accidently bang it once on my counter top (maybe it was just plain luck). Durable, yes, but it's lacking of those taste of earthiness that I got from the one made out of terracotta. I don't give up just yet, so I'll be ordering mine pretty soon, and will show it off to you too. Anyway, for a change, I thought I borrowed Cathy's idea of baking it, and glad I did it. It was absolutely delicious and I encourage you to try it yourself. Don't skip the orange flower water, it really make this dish so deliciously fragrant, and your kitchen will smell good too.
The recipe inspired by :
Saffron Chicken With Apricot, The Moroccan Collection Book written by Hilaire Walden.
And by Cathy's Spicy Chicken and Apricot.
2 (3 lbs) cornish hens
2 tbs olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 small garlic, minced
24 dried apricot
¼ cup dried sultanas
2 cinnamon sticks
1 whole star anise
1 tsp ground ginger
½ tsp ground cumin
1-2 tbs orange flower water
¼-½ tsp saffron threads, soak with 2 tbs hot water
½ cup chicken stock or water
salt and pepper to taste
1 tbs chopped parsley
½ tbs chopped mints
a handful of almond and pine nuts, optional
- Saute onion over medium heat until translucent, add minced garlic, dried apricot, dried sultanas, cinnamon sticks, star anise, ground, ground cumin, orange flower water, saffron water, and the chicken stock or water. Stir to mix the ingredients, season with salt and pepper, don't forget to taste it to see if need an adjustment. As soon as it starts to boil, turn the stove off, add the parsley and mints, mix, and let this mixture cool completely.
- Preheat oven to 375⁰F. Position the rack in the middle.
- Clean, and cut the hens into quarter. Pat dry with paper towel. Arrange them neatly on a oven proof ceramic dish. Pour the apricot-spice mixture directly on the hens, turning to coat each of the pieces with this mixture, then arrange them back with the skin side up. Transfer to the oven, and bake for 1 hour, about 10 minutes before the cooking finish, scatter almond and pine nut on top, continue to cook until the hen is brown and cook thoroughly. Alternately, you can lightly toasted the nuts separately in a skillet, then scatter them when you are ready to serve.
For more info about unglazed tagine pot, visit this discussion site, here (scroll all the way down until you see Wolfert's article). Where I got my teracota tagine pot?, visit this store here, the price is really reasonable.