Sunday, July 03, 2005

Saturday Lunch + Post-work Snack: Chicken & Chick-Pea Tagine

42. Chicken & Chick Pea Tagine

I cooked this tagine, from the Cooking In Advance chapter, in advance. This was the first time I’d ever used dried chick peas – soaking, then boiling always seemed too much of a palaver to me. But Nigella has tried it with both dried and canned, and it is better with dried. So I went for the soaking option.

Nigella also says, “There seems to be a conspiracy to misinform you about chick peas: I cannot believe the number of times I’ve read that 45 minutes will do, when it takes double that time to cook them”.

Um… ok, what conspiracy?

I started them soaking on Tuesday night at 2am, drained them on Thursday at 4pm (so 38 hours), set them boiling, took a one hour nap, got up and checked the chickpeas – they were cooked! Almost overdone, even! I was lucky, but I think the fact that they were recently bought and had a long soaking time helped.

I cooked the rest of the tagine on Thursday night. You just brown some chicken thighs, then cook some onion, garlic and celery. Add batons of carrot, flour and spices. Return the chicken to the pan, cover with stock and wine, and let cook for an hour. I don't own an actual tagine, unfortunately, so a huge red Le Crueset had to do.

One reason why I chose to make this was because it gave us an excuse to have the cherried and chick-pea’d couscous again! (Minus chick-peas, though, duh).

Tagine and Couscous

My parents and I had it for lunch today. I was in a total rush, coming home at 1:00pm from the slow-as-all-hell Optus World (but I got a new phone, yay!), and having to leave at 2:00pm to get to work. Luckily it only takes 5 minutes to make couscous!

This was a huge success. Huge, huge success. I was a bit worried when I saw the tagine in the pot straight after cooking, as it seemed too heavily spiced, was so watery and looked slightly greasy. (Bringing back bad memories of the time I made Nigella’s Lamb Shank Stew from Nigella Bites, with which I was disappointed). But when we ate the tagine, two days later, it was fantastic. The chickpeas were grainy, nutty and full of chick-pea goodness, and the meat was very tender, but not disintegrating. This impressed my chicken-curry-cooking mother greatly. And my dad loved it, despite his aversion to both couscous and casseroles. He said the appeal of dish was all in the flavour. Wahoo.

And after work, I came home starving and wolfed down another bowl with some rice. (Silly parents ate all the couscous while I was away). Dee-licious and satisfying. 7 hours with no meal-break? Chef, you must be crazy!


Ilana said...

That is so funny! I made chickpeas with the soaking method too... (from NB) .. I started soaking them on Friday night, around 10pm, and started cooking them today, around 12pm... so close to 40 hours!!! My chickpeas were definitely done before the stipulated 1.5 hours, but I don't mind soft yummy goodness as long as it wasn't fall apart, and they weren't... Your tagine dish looks fabulous! Mmmmm.

Kelly-Jane said...

Wow, the chicken and couscous look absolutely great! Must look this recipe up.