Monday, March 29, 2010

Dinner and a Movie

Have you ever had a random memory pop into your head that made you smile? That happened to me recently. One evening, during my college years, my friend and I decided we should watch a movie. Not just any movie; we chose Casablanca!

I know there where many movie nights, with many friends in college, but for some reason, that evening really stands out in my mind. Maybe, (although I didn't know it then), it is because I was spending time with my future husband. By the way, he insists that Casablanca is not a movie, but a film.

Casablanca, of course, is the largest city in Morocco. And although you probably wouldn't find it at Rick's Cafe, Moroccan cuisine is one of the most intriguing cuisines around. This is because Morocco has been greatly influenced by other cultures.

One aspect of Moroccan cooking that particularly interests me is the tajine. A tajine is a special pot used for slow cooking foods.

Since I do not yet own a tagine, the following recipe is perfect for me. I found the original recipe here on RecipeZaar. It has excellent reviews plus it is cooked in a crock-pot!

Moroccan Chicken, Chickpea and Apricot Tagine
(This is how I made it, original recipe halved and substitute spice mixture used)
Serves 4 easily and if you're lucky you might even have leftovers, but don't count on it!

1 1/2 lbs chicken breast, chopped into large chunks,
(I also pounded it with my fist to tenderize a little)
1/2 tbsp. plain flour
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, pushed through a garlic press
1-1 1/2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 inch ginger root, finely chopped
3 oz. dried apricots, quartered
1 carrot, peeled and diced
1 rounded tablespoon of tomato paste
1-14 oz. can diced tomatoes and juice
1-14 oz. can chickpeas, drained
(I only used 3/4 of the can)
1 1/2 tbsp. honey
1/4 cup chicken stock
1/2 tsp. turmeric
1/2 tsp. ground coriander
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
(optional, but I used it)
salt and black pepper to taste
handful of fresh cilantro for garnish

In a sauté pan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and sauté for 5-10 minutes being careful not to burn the garlic.

Add the chicken stock to the pan then slowly add the flour, stirring well until the four is fully incorporated and without lumps. Next Add the honey, tomato paste, herbs, spices, ginger, salt & pepper, and tomatoes stirring after each addition.

Transfer this mixture to your crockpot. Add the chicken, chickpeas, dried apricots and carrots, and stir again to make sure it is thoroughly mixed. You may feel the need to add a little extra water or chicken stock, but don't do more than about 1/8 cup.

Cook in your slow cooker on high for about 3 to 4 hours low for 8 hours. You know your crock pot better than me, so decide how long to cook based on your own model.

Tear the cilantro leaves and sprinkle over the dish to garnish.

Serve with Couscous

Couscous might be the easiest thing you will ever cook. You can buy it in a box at your favorite grocery store. Just follow the directions on the package. You can substitute the water for chicken stock you might have leftover from the tagine.

This might be the best dish I've ever made!

This is seriously, one DELICIOUS meal! And if you're wondering, yes, we did eat and then watch Casablanca. We had our friends Cory and Michelle over for dinner and a movie. We went semi-Moroccan and ate around our coffee table, though we did not sit on the floor.

Michelle made a yummy rice pudding with heavenly pineapple puree. Check out her blog: Food for Thought and Tummy to get her recipe!

We had a great evening with friends and a classic film! Thanks Michelle for helping out with dinner and for your lovely photography!


EHisCDN said...

My dad actually just went to Casablanca last year! I've always wanted to try Moroccan but I was scared off by the tagine so this recipe is great. I'll be sure to try it one weekend.

Michelle said...

Our pleasure Elizabeth - thank you for inviting us!