Monday, April 18, 2011

Morocco Meets Milwaukee (Chicken Tagine with WI Root Vegetables)

Sorry to be missing lately.  Jeff had a lot of gigs last week, and there's really no point in me cooking for myself.  I had a lot of bread and cheese dinners.

For my birthday this year, my mom got me a tagine, which is basically a North African casserole dish.  Traditionally, it would be cooked over an open fire, and I actually did try to use it on my grill, but it is too tall and the cover of the grill wouldn't close, so I used my oven instead.

I didn't make it to the farmer's market this Saturday, as I had to teach class at 10:00 am and I totally overslept - so my cupboards are rather bare... Seems like the perfect opportunity for a one pot, simple meal!  A little bit of Morocco, a little bit of Milwaukee, and a whole lot of yum!  I would not change a thing in this recipe.  It came out absolutely perfect, with the exception of a lot of water in the bottom of the tajine when it was done.  It didn't effect the flavor at all - in fact I'm sure all the steaming made the chicken even more tender, but it wasn't as pretty to serve.  I'm guessing that was from the vegetables I used, because the chicken was very moist.  I've never cooked with rutabaga or celery root before, so I'm not sure how much liquid they're supposed to give off...  This was also pretty sweet because of the honey, but in a good way.  If you wanted to add some spice, I think a hot madras curry powder would add a nice flavor as well.

I did purchase a chicken at the farmer's market two weeks ago - my first non-Farmer Jones chicken in almost three years.  It made me sad, but the guy selling it looked like Spike from Top Chef Season 4/Top Chef All Stars, so that helped a little.  It would have helped more if he looked like Spike from Buffy, but a girl can only ask for so much!

This was 100% local... if you don't count the spices!  The celery root takes a lot longer than everything to cook, so I started that cooking and then did everything else.

Moroccan Chicken Tagine with WI Root Vegetables

  • 1 medium rutabaga (local)
  • 2 small celery root bulbs (local)
  • 3 cloves garlic (local)
  • Salt & freshly ground pepper
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 cup olive oil, divided
  • 1 (3 lb) chicken, cut into serving pieces (local)
  • 1 onion, halved and then thinly sliced (local)
  • 3 tbsp (ish) honey (local)
Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.

Peel and cut celery root into about 1/2 inch pieces.  Mince 1 garlic clove and combine with 1/8 cup olive oil.  Coat celery root with garlic/oil, and season with salt and pepper.  Place into bottom of tangine.  Cover, and cook in oven for 40 minutes.

While celery root is cooking, peel and cut rutabaga into about 1/2 inch pieces.  Mince 2nd garlic clove and combine with 1/8 cup olive oil.  Coat rutabaga with garlic/oil and season with salt and pepper.

Combine spices, salt and pepper to taste, and remaining 1/4 cup olive oil in a large bowl.  Add chicken pieces and turn to coat.  In a large skillet over medium high heat, brown chicken in multiple batches (don't crowd the chicken), and set aside.  If you have any seasoned oil left in your bowl, add that into your skillet (if not, you may need to add a little more oil) and cook onions and final clove of garlic until the onions are just starting to soften.  Add honey to onions.

After the celery root has cooked for 40 minutes, add the rutabaga to the tagine and cook for 10 more minutes.  Then, add the chicken , and top with the onions.  Return tagine to oven and cook for an additional 40 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through.

Total cooking time: 1 hour 30 minutes.

You certainly could serve this with couscous.  I did not serve it with anything, and it was enough and quite delicious.


  1. It helps when my neighbor down the hall is also cooking and so when I'm reading this I also think I smell this. Smells good. If I didn't have such a fancy a dish, a regular casserole dish would work, right?

  2. Yes, you could absolutely use a regular covered casserole dish. But, it would not look as fancy on the table and, personally, I think that makes it taste better!!