I used to make this Moroccan Chicken Tagine in the oven. That was before I worked out how to get the most out of my slow cooker. As this tagine comes together quite quickly, it has now become the ideal dinner for me to throw in the slow cooker at the start of a busy day.
Two key ingredients help deliver a power punch of flavour in this dish: a good Ras el Hanout spice mix and preserved lemons. I prefer to buy my spices whole and grind them as required, so I don’t keep a lot of spice mixes on hand. I do, however, have a couple of notable exceptions to this rule; dukkah and a jar of my homemade spice mix are a must, and Ras el Hanout is always in my spice cupboard.
Originating in Northern Africa, Ras el Hanout (Arabic for “head of the shop”) was typically a blend of the best spices a shopkeeper had to hand in his shop. I always pick up a new blend to try whenever I see one, but the blend I keep going back to, and by far my favourite, is this one from Herbie’s Spices. I have seen Ras el Hanout sold as “Moroccan Spice” on some supermarket shelves. Be wary of these blends though, and always read the label, as some brands are padded out with salt and sugar. There should be nothing but spices in the ingredients.
Every year at this time, when the lemon tree is heavy with fruit, I make a batch of preserved lemons. They are easy to make, and keep well. However, don’t let your lack of desire to make your own hold you back. Preserved lemons are now readily available in supermarkets and delis. Unlike fresh lemons, the rind is the most valuable part . Just discard the salty pith before you add the lemons to a dish. Preserved lemon pairs well with chicken, lamb and fish. Finely chop the rind, and add it it to marinades, rubs, and roasts.
If you are short on time, prepare this Chicken Tagine in the slow cooker insert the night before, and leave it to sit overnight in the fridge. Then all you need to do in the morning is pop the insert into the slow cooker and turn it on. The tagine also freezes brilliantly, so if you like the idea of having an extra meal on hand just double the recipe. Serve it with a side of wholegrain cous cous for a simple dinner that tastes like it came straight out of the oven.
I prefer to use bone-in chicken thighs for this recipe. I find this cut holds up better in the slow cooker, and the bone adds additional nourishment and taste to the dish. I have not made this with chicken fillet, so cannot provide details on the final dish.
- 8 skinless chicken thighs, bone in
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 1 clove garlic, crushed
- 1 Tablespoon Ras el Hanout
- 250ml chicken stock
- 400g tin chickpeas, drained
- 1 small preserved lemon, rind only, finely chopped
- Pinch saffron strands
- ¼ - ½ cup Kalamata olives
- 50g (Small bunch) coriander
- Salt & pepper
- Place the chicken thighs in the bottom of the slow cooker insert.
- Heat a fry pan over a medium heat.
- Add the olive oil and onion, and fry for 5 minutes or until the onion is golden brown.
- Stir in the garlic and ras el hanout.
- Fry for 1 minute, or until you can smell the garlic and spice mix.
- Pour the onion mixture over the chicken thighs.
- Add the chicken stock to the fry pan, and gently heat for 1 minute to deglaze the pan.
- Pour the chicken stock into the slow cooker.
- Add the chickpeas, preserved lemon, saffron and olives.
- Finely chop the bunch of coriander, including the roots and stems. Reserve the leaves, and add the chopped roots and stems to the slow cooker.
- Season with salt and pepper.
- Gently stir to coat the chicken and evenly distribute the ingredients.
- Cook on High for 4 hours or Low for 8.
- Stir through the reserved chopped coriander leaves, and serve with wholegrain cous cous.
P.S. If you are looking for more slow cooker meals, try my Slow Cooker Thai Red Beef Curry or Slow Cooker Lamb Korma Curry