Chicken Butternut “Tagine”

I get recipes emailed to my inbox every day – between Food & Wine and Food Network newsletters, myrecipes.com, blogs I follow….I usually end up bookmarking them to read later, or maybe glance at them quickly and decide if they’re to a) delete or b) add to my Pinterest board to make later.  And occasionally I’ll see one that makes me think, “Hmm, that sounds interesting/tasty/fun – I think I should make that.”  Such was the case with this Chicken Butternut Tagine recipe from myrecipes.com – it was one of their “Dinner Tonight” recipes, something that can be made in under an hour on a weeknight.  I thought the flavor combination sounded really interesting, and like something that Adam and I would thoroughly enjoy.  We love all types of cuisine, things with a lot of spice and flavor. Plus, the idea of making a “tagine” on the stovetop in under an hour was very enticing, so I figured I’d give it a shot!  It’s turned out to be one of our favorite meals, and I’ve lost track at this point of how many times I’ve made this.  It’s not unusual for Adam, when I ask him what he wants for dinner, to request this.

I follow their recipe pretty much to a T, but as is my standard, make a couple of tweaks or modifications – both for ease and flavor.  They recommend prunes, I use raisins – I always have them in the pantry.  They also use green olives, but to be less wasteful I’ve started using one small can of black olives so I don’t end up always throwing away the other half a jar or can of the green ones.  I also serve it over two boxes of roasted garlic and olive oil couscous (I always make extra, because we love this for leftovers), and with a side of naan.  The pre-packaged Stonefire brand that you can find over near the produce/deli section at your grocery store is actually really good – we prefer the whole grain or garlic flavors.

Chicken Butternut Tagine (adapted from myrecipes.com)

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp ground turmeric
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ginger (I recommend the fresh/jarred ground ginger, not the dry spice, for extra flavor)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 to 1 1/2 lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 cups low sodium chicken broth
1 small to medium butternut squash, peeled and cubed
a couple of handfuls of raisins
one small can (2.25 oz) sliced black olives, drained

2 boxes roasted garlic and olive oil couscous

Prep everything before you start.  This recipe comes together very quickly once you start cooking, so you want to make sure all of your ingredients are ready to go.  Chop up your onion and squash and set aside. (note: I did use prepackaged cut-up squash once, to save time, but found the texture to be not nearly as pleasing as freshly chopped squash.  It was drier and mealier somehow.  So use fresh if possible!)
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Measure out all of your spices, through the garlic, into a small bowl.
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Now you’re ready to cook.  Heat the oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat.  Add the onion, and cook until golden, stirring occasionally, about 6 to 8 minutes.
Add the spice mixture and the chicken and cook for one minute, stirring constantly, until most of the chicken pieces have a nice sear to the outside.
Stir in the broth, squash, raisins, and olives.  Raise the heat slightly and bring to a boil.  Cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer about 15 minutes.  The squash should be tender and cooked through, but the chicken should still be moist.
While that’s cooking, you can prepare your couscous according to the directions on the box (and preheat your oven to warm up some naan, if desired.)
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After about 15 minutes, assemble and enjoy!!
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