Friday, March 5, 2010

Dutch Oven, Moroccan Food

I love to make savory stews and tagine dishes, and I make them often. They are comforting, and soothing, on a cold winter's day. We've been having so much snow in New York. Snow storm after snow storm.

I always liked the idea of owning a dutch oven. I just love the durability and versatility of it - stove-top or in the oven, exactly like a real tagine. The only thing that stopped me from buying one in the past, is how expensive they are.

Recently, I took a trip to Macy's and was surprised to come across this Martha Stewart dutch oven. First, I was surprised that her company made dutch ovens (but then again, I guess if there's money in making them...), but I was particularly delighted by the price. Up until now, I would walk past Le Creuset or Emeril dutch ovens and just dream and drool, because they are so expensive and I am so cheap. Sure, they might not be quite as tough as a Creuset, but it works great for my tagines. I prepare the stew stove-top, then transfer it to the oven; then I relax and let it simmer until its time to eat,... and the meat is falling off the bone.

Here is the simple tagine I made last night. I used the vegetables and meat that I happened to have, but they can be substituted with your favorites (or with whatever veggies happen to be in your fridge).

The key is to get the spicing right, and to let it stew long enough for all the flavors to mingle. Feel free to get creative,... I always do.

1 pack chicken legs and thighs (about 8-10 pieces)
1/2 onion (chopped finely)
4 cloves of garlic (smashed)
1/3 pack of baby carrots (about 18-22 carrots)
1 large potato (chopped into about 1 inch squares)
8 tablespoons olive oil (approximately, enough to cover the bottom of the dutch oven)
12 leaves fresh spinach (approximately, a handful)

Spice blend


(mix these with each other until you get the desired flavor your looking for)

Line the bottom of the pan with olive oil, over medium heat. Smash the garlic cloves and add them. Add salt and pepper to your chicken and place them in the dutch oven (uncovered) to brown and add flavor. Whether you leave the skin on the chicken or not is your choice. The skin will eventually become soft as you add water to the stew. Turn them around to brown on all sides. As they are browning, add the remaining spices. Add the onions (you may add these sooner to add more flavor to the chicken, just make sure that they don't burn). Add carrots, potato and spinach. Turn the temperature down to medium-low, and let it all simmer for 5-10 minutes.

Add enough water to cover the stew halfway. Then cover and place in oven at 350-400 degrees. Check on it occasionally to be sure that there is enough water. It is ready after about 1 hour, but you can leave it in the oven for as long as you like (up to 4 hours. Just be sure that it has enough water). It will only become more savory!

If you have guests and would like to add to the illusion of being in Morocco, once it is cooked, serve it in a fancy decorative tagine.