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Lamb Merguez and Chicken Tagine is aromatic, visually striking and oh so satisfying. Served with a whole wheat couscous with barberries and nuts, the dinner was ready in about an hour. While the couscous may not have been steamed over the tagine as a traditional couscous would be, it had the virtue of being ready in about 6 minutes. Here’s how this flavorful tagine came about.
So Shabbat was coming – as it does every week – and I had nothing planned. Feeling a bit lazy, I didn’t want to go to the grocery store again to pick something up. These days we pretty much only eat meat on Shabbat and later in the week if there are left-overs. It seemed like a good time to check out my freezer. It’s mostly filled with nuts, frozen fruit, ice cream and veggie sausages so I wasn’t very hopeful. However, in the very back under some bags of fruit, I found one pound of chicken tenders and some lamb merguez sausage. Hmmmmmm….
I always have plenty of grains, legumes, olives and veggies around as well as great spices, so I figured I could come up with something. After spending a bit of time Googling and deciding that I wanted to make a tagine, I found one that used both merguez sausage and chicken. I made some tweaks and the resulting Lamb Merguez and Chicken Tagine exceeded all of my expectations.
While the end result was absolutely delicious, when I make this again – and I will – I would choose boneless chicken thighs instead of breast meat. Not only do the thighs have more flavor, but they stay juicy and are more forgiving than breast meat. But if the pandemic taught me anything, it is that we make do with what’s on hand.
I eat with all of my senses. While I may sacrifice aesthetics on occasion for flavor, ideally a meal is attractive as well as delicious. It is an extra treat if my apartment is permeated with lovely spices. There is just something so comforting. While this dish as made is well-seasoned, it is not spicy. Frequently a tagine will be accompanied either by zhug or harissa for those who desire more heat.
Although I only used a little over a pound and a half of meat, the meal, with side salads and dips, could easily feed six people. Four people if my son is one of them! As I have mentioned in earlier posts, I always have four to six salads and dips for shabbat, which we then enjoy throughout the week.
This wonderful Lamb Merguez and Chicken Tagine does not require a tagine to successfully make this dish. I use my favorite Staub enameled cast iron dome-covered every-day pan – well, every day. You do want to use a heavy pan with a wide bottom.
Definitely give this a try. It makes for a delicious meal any time. But remember, it is the spices that make this dish. So be sure to use fresh ones.
For some salad and dip ideas
Moroccan Beet and Orange Salad with Pistachios
Yield: 4 to 6 generous portions depending on sides
1 rounded teaspoon ground cumin
1 rounded teaspoon paprika (sweet or smoked)
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
3/4 teaspoon ground coriander
3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon cayenne or Aleppo pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
For the tagine
1 pound boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into 2 to 3-inch pieces
8.5 ounces of lamb merguez sausage, cut into 3-inch pieces (See photo above)
1/4 cup good olive oil
2 large carrots, peeled and cut on an angle into 2-inch pieces (See photo above)
1 large zucchini, cut on an angle into 2-inch pieces (See photo above)
1 large yellow onion, peeled, halved and cut into 1/4-inch thick slices
1 15.5 ounce can of chickpeas, drained (I cook up my own chickpeas and then used the cooking liquid in the tagine instead of broth.)
1 rounded Tablespoon garlic ginger paste OR 4 cloves of garlic minced and 1.5 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
1.5 cups of salted chicken or vegetable broth OR the cooking liquid from home cooked chickpeas
1/2 cup of pitted green olives (I like Castelvetrano olives)
1/2 of a preserved lemon, the peel only sliced into julienne (I make my own, but these are available nowadays in many stores and online)
For the couscous
2 cups whole wheat or regular couscous (Not the Israeli couscous which is bigger and takes longer to cook)
1/2 cup dried barberries, raisins or dried cranberries
3 Tablespoon EVOO
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
4 cups of chicken or vegetable broth
1/2 cup toasted coarsely chopped pistachios or sliced almonds
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh parsley
For the tagine
Mix together all of the spices for the spice mix. Pour 2 Tablespoons of the olive oil into your pan over a low heat. Add the spice mix and cook for 2 to 3 minutes in order for the spices to bloom and become fragrant.
Once the spices have bloomed, add the garlic ginger paste (OR the grated ginger and garlic) carrot, zucchini and onion and bathe with the oil and spices. Cook for a few minutes or just until the vegetables begin to soften.
Now add the chicken, merguez sausage and chickpeas. Gently toss so that everything is coated with the spices and oil. Next add in the preserved lemon and the olives and then add the broth over everything. Increase the heat to bring everything to a boil.
Cover the pan and reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook for about 40 minutes or until the chicken and sausage are cooked through.
For the Couscous
Place the couscous, barberries, cranberries or raisins, olive oil, turmeric and salt in a glass or ceramic serving dish Stir through so that everything is evenly distributed. Bring the broth to a boil and pour over the couscous mixture. Cover tightly with a lid, foil or plastic wrap. Leave covered for 6 to 8 minutes or until all of the liquid is absorbed and the couscous is fluffy. Add the chopped nuts and parsley and stir through. Now enjoy!