Tag Archives: chicken thigh

Chicken Tagine with Couscous and Harissa

I’m a bit of a fraud with this recipe.  I made all of it, but have had real trouble getting ‘real’ couscous and not the instant stuff, so I did make the couscous, but the cheating way, not the way described in the recipe.  I definitely need to head down to the Middle Eastern Grocery stores so I can have some on hand.  So that’s why there are no photos of the couscous!

I’ve been looking lovingly at this recipe since I bought “In The Mix” and every time I’ve had the opportunity to make it, my parents have been coming around for dinner.  My Dad is strictly old-school and will not touch chicken or poultry of any description – or so he says.  He’s happily eaten it when he is guest in someone’s home, or if we tell him it’s something else – so it’s definitely a mind over matter thing – but my mother has now spent 56 years making a carpet bag steak for him for his Christmas Dinner while the rest of us eat turkey.  And I think Master 3 can be difficult to please!!  I had thought about just making it and telling him it was rabbit, but the potential guilt complex got the better of me.

I have been the owner of a tagine for about 10 years, but I have never – ever – used it.  It is sitting on the top of my fridge down at the beach in pristine condition.  I love the idea of cooking in a tagine, but just never got around to it, so I wanted to give this recipe a go.  This recipe is from Cath Claringbold, who is an amazing chef who specialises in Middle Eastern food, amongst many other things.  I’ve been lucky enough to eat at a few of her restaurants and they have all been amazing.

This would be a really great dish for entertaining a group of people, or if you were going to bring a dish to a gathering of some kind.  Although the recipe says it serves 4-6, my TM bowl was almost filled to overflowing, and I’m sure we have had at least six generous serves from it. I’m sure that I’ll bring one to our next family ‘bring something along’ gathering, and see if Dad eats it then!

I made the harissa paste required for this recipe a few weeks ago and popped it in the freezer for when I had the occasion to make this.  Although your local herb and spice shop will think you’ve gone mad with the quantity of cumin and coriander you buy for both the paste and the tagine, it really is worth it.  The paste freezes well although next time I’d freeze it in smaller blocks rather than one big chunk – ice cubes worth would be great.  Dani even recommends using the harissa in a Bloody Mary in place of tobasco – I’ll have to give that a go!

The harissa paste is dead easy.  I’d always been a little afraid of roasting capsicums, but I bit the bullet and did it in the oven.  I left them in the oven for about 20 minutes, turning them once, and made sure when they were pretty scorched, then put them in a ziplock bag and let them sweat and cool, and then the skin peeled right off. Even thought it might be tempting, don’t rinse them under water to get the skin off, as you’ll dilute the roasted flavour.  I’m not sure if some people cut the capsicum in half lengthwise before they roast, but if you have space on your tray it would save you turning them.  You don’t need to oil them or anything before you put them in the oven, and you’ll be surprised at the amount of oil that comes out of them!

Roasting spices has never been easier!  No mess, no mortar and pestle to clean up after grinding them, and the smells that waft through your kitchen are just heavenly.

The tagine itself is easy and pretty quick in the scheme of things. You will need a couple of bowls to set things aside in, but there’s nothing too tiresome in doing that.   I did notice after I’d poured it out a little that I had a slightly burned bit on the TM bowl, but it wasn’t burned as such, and the flavours were sound.

I didn’t need anything like 500mls of chicken stock to cover the chicken thighs, in fact I was a little dubious about putting in as much stock as I did as I was over the magic 2 litre mark on the TM bowl.  It didn’t bubble over till the very end though, and even then, not much.  If you had the varoma in place for the couscous, you wouldn’t even notice.

I had some store bought preserved lemon that I used for this recipe, and it really adds a lovely flavour to the tagine.  It’s well worth making your own or having a small jar on hand to use.

All in all, this is a great dish and something I will definitely put in the memory bank for future reference!!


Posted by on August 23, 2012 in Main meals


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Chicken Wontons

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I’ve always been a fan of Asian inspired appetisers – I’m the one that can be seen chasing down the Asian inspired bites at most functions we go to! I’ve never really attempted to make them myself though – probably because they are always so beautifully presented, they look a bit too intimidating to the home cook! I decided to bite the bullet and make these – and ideally I would have served them with the chicken consommé that Dani recommends in the book, but after searching my recipe book collection, googling, and asking about, I just couldn’t find a chicken consommé recipe that appealed to me – so, that said – does anyone have a good one? So, I ended up serving them atop some stir fried Asian vegetables, and they were delicious.

My first tip would be to check the best before date on your wonton skins!  I bought mine about a week before I used them, and when I first went to use them realised they had expired a two weeks prior.  I hate that!  Couldn’t be bothered going to the supermarket then and there, and it was only $1.79, but it’s the principle!  Anyway, I was at another supermarket, picked some more up and then made the wontons the following day.  You can find the wonton skins at most supermarkets in the refrigerated section, and they are in small square blocks.

Luckily, I hadn’t thrown out the original pack.  Even though I looked on the second pack, I couldn’t see how many skins were in the pack, and I guessed that one pack would be enough.  WRONG!! So make sure you’re going to have enough.  I ended up channelling my inner mother and used the pack that had past its best before date. (Can you hear my justifying it? It’s best before, not use by!  They’re being cooked, steamed at over 100 degrees, surely that would kill any nasties??) Anyway, I used some of the expired ones, and I’m still here to tell the tale.

I used chicken thigh rather than chicken breast for the filling.  I think chicken thigh is a bit tastier than breast, and as long as you make sure all the sinewy bits are removed, it is fine – and cheaper.  Freezing it for 20 minutes before mincing it in the thermomix makes the mincing easier – well, even easier that it usually is in the thermomix.

I didn’t put chilli powder in this time, but next time I will.  I think I’ll also measure the salt (5 grams) more carefully as I sort of guestimated it, and it needed a little more to my taste.  That said, I did put some soy sauce with them when I served them up, and that helped no end. The 10 grams of coriander leaves is nearly a while bunch worth (or at least it is where I shop – I really need to get my herb garden going again – I begrudge every cent I spend on herbs that you can grow at home).

For easier measuring of small quantities, put the basket in the thermomix and set it to scales, then add the leaves in handfuls rather than small amount by small amount. Don’t forget to look at my previous tips about what to do with your left over egg yolks if you’re freezing them. My wonton wrapping skills definitely need work.  The wonton skins themselves are pretty good to work with, although sometimes they can be hard to peel off the block.  I used my fingernails to try and ease up a corner, and then lifted of the sheet.  Each wonton sheet is about 10 cm square, and a teaspoon of the chicken mixture is adequate.

I’m going to have to find someone to tutor me in the finer art of wonton wrapping, mine all stayed together but didn’t look as pretty as they could have. It’s definitely an art to be able to wrap them prettily. I made the mixture and wrapped the wontons several hours before steaming them.  To stop the wonton skins drying out and buckling, and being super paranoid about chicken, I put them on silicone paper and covered them with a clean, damp tea towel and put them in the fridge.  It kept them nice and moist until it was time to steam them, and I don’t think it did them any harm.

When you’re steaming, make sure you grease the varoma trays first.  I didn’t use vegetable oil as suggested, but gave both layers of the varoma a spray with canola oil, which did the trick.  I used both levels of the varoma tray to fit all the wontons in.  Be careful in placing the wontons, especially on the lower tray, and make sure you don’t over fill it, or cover all the holes.  You need the steam to get through!  I put about 10 on the bottom tray, mostly around the edges to make sure the steam could get through to the top.

I’ll definitely make these again, especially once someone shares an amazing consommé recipe with me…

1 Comment

Posted by on April 10, 2012 in Recipes


Tags: , , , , , , ,