Chicken Prune Tagine – Spicy Comfort Food

A Tagine is, broadly speaking, the French’s answer to the British’s favourite curry. When looking for a bit of comforting spice and the warming exotic, as the British go Indian, the French go Moroccan. As we’re a British-French family we love both – but during the winter, one of our favourite slow-cooked casseroles is this Chicken Prune Tagine, as it’s lighter than it looks.

chicken prune tagine

When I first arrived in Paris in 1992, Indian curry houses were rare; on the other hand, Moroccan Couscous restaurants were – and still are – extremely popular. What I love about tagines (or tajines, named after the dish they’re traditionally cooked in) is that they’re healthy, too. No need for a heavy dessert afterwards, either. The best dessert following this? Sliced juicy table oranges, with a hint of orange blossom water and more grilled almonds, if you have any left – and what about a orange and prune macaron?

This has been my go-to splashed and tattered recipe for years, adapted from a magazine cut-out (with my added notes like ‘More garlic!’, ‘add saffron’ and ‘fresh coriander a must’). Even French/Spanish family that live in Morocco approved this recipe, which is the ultimate compliment. Ideally it’s cooked in a tagine dish but is just as good in a good, heavy crock pot.

turkey prune tagine

This recipe started out as a lamb tagine but gradually, as the family have been eating meat less and enjoying more poultry, we’ve replaced it with something a bit more ‘meaty’ than chicken – even although chicken is super for this recipe. Traditionally, chicken tagine is usually made with olives and citron confit or preserved lemon (I love that too – recipe to come!). As it can be a bit acidic, the kids prefer this moreish chicken prune tagine version.

Meaty Poultry: Oyster (fowl) – Perfect for Chicken Prune Tagine

So what’s the special poultry meat that can fool us into thinking that it looks like lamb yet tastes slightly lighter? We find it at many local boucheries or at the local market: known as Sot l’y laisse or huîtres de poulet. They are Oyster Fowl – two oyster-sized rounds of darker poultry meat, found near the thighs.

sot l'y laisse or oyster fowl

They’re rather large – so large that, by rule of thumb, we usually have 3 per person and they can be each cut into 3.  They resemble pig’s cheeks (joues de porc), another interesting ingredient for spicy dishes. Please remind me later if you’re interested, as I have another recipe I often make yet haven’t posted. It’s dynamite.

What do they have in common? They’re so much cheaper and just as tender as lamb in a slow-cooked casserole.

Turkey prune tagine

Serve this Chicken Prune Tagine with medium sized semolina (couscous). According to packet instructions for semolina, use about 100g (3.5oz) per person with the same amount of water. Instead, for 4 portions, I’ll use 400g (14oz) of semolina, tossed in a tablespoon of olive oil, salt, pepper and 400ml of liquid: water topped with a tablespoon of Moroccan orange blossom water and mixed with a handful of golden sultanas, then heat.

Did you spot the macaron? It’s one of my savoury macarons from Mad About Macarons which uses mainly cumin and is ideal for serving before or during a fun spicy evening. It’s a taste sensation that tickles the senses: pop in a mini mac and hit the cayenne spice then the second that follows, the (reduced) sugar in the macaron shells put out the fire. Taste it and see!

turkey prune tagine macarons

Chicken Prune Tagine Recipe

Chicken Prune Tagine
Prep Time
20 mins
Cook Time
1 hr 40 mins
Total Time
2 hrs
 

A lightly spiced chicken tagine with prunes, served with orange blossom and sultana semolina and topped with toasted almonds and fresh coriander - perfect winter comfort food. Savoury macarons optional!

Course: Main, Main Course
Cuisine: French, Moroccan
Keyword: chicken prune tagine, couscous, spicy poultry slowcooked dish, tagine
Servings: 6 people
Calories: 473 kcal
Author: Jill Colonna
Ingredients
  • 1.2 kg (2lb 12oz) chicken breasts or whole chicken cut into 12 pieces (or oyster fowl)
  • 5 tbsp plain flour (for coating the chicken)
  • olive oil
  • 5 cloves garlic peeled & grated
  • 4 cm piece fresh ginger grated
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (or more if you like it hot!)
  • 2 tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 tbsp 4-spices powder (cloves, cinnamon, ginger, pepper)
  • 1 tbsp ground coriander
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 600 ml (1 pint) chicken stock
  • sprig fresh thyme
  • 3 tomatoes chopped
  • 24 juicy prunes (ideally with stones for flavour)
  • Pinch saffron ground or strands (optional)
  • 25 g (1oz) almond slivers toasted under grill, for garnish
  • fresh coriander for garnish
Instructions
  1. Coat the chicken in flour and fry in olive oil in a large non-stick casserole dish. When browned on all sides, strain and remove from the pot. Keep aside on a plate. Add the grated garlic, ginger and cayenne, frying for a minute. Add the rest of the spices and fry for a further minute.

  2. Add the chicken back to the pot with the chicken stock and thyme Cover and cook on low heat for at least an hour. 

  3. Add the tomatoes, prunes and saffron, if using. Cook for a further 30 minutes. Prepare the semolina, as per packet instructions and serve with toasted almond slivers and lots of fresh coriander.

Recipe Notes

Serve with semolina (100g per person/100ml water including a tbsp orange blossom water, a tbsp olive oil for 6, pepper, salt, olive oil), prepare as of packet instructions and add a knob of butter when reheating.

The tagine can be made the day before and reheated before serving. Also freezes well. I suggest making the first part without the prunes. Cool, chill & freeze then after defrosting, reheat adding the prunes and continue the rest of the recipe.

Serve with a Moroccan red wine (we love 'Tandem', a syrah fruity/peppery red made as a joint effort by Alain Graillot and Ouled Thaleb winery near Casablanca).

 

Jill Colonna

MadAboutMacarons.com

 

chicken-prune-tagine-couscous

Thanks so much for sharing, pinning or commenting below – it means the world to hear that you’ve either made/enjoyed this Chicken Prune Tagine or even popped in just to say bonjour.

I forgot to tell you one of our other favourite winter warming slow-cooked casseroles: it’s this classic French Blanquette de Veau.

turkey prune tagine

Cumin and have a spicy winter warmer with a wee savoury macaron!

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14 replies
  1. Thomasina
    Thomasina says:


    Thank you for reminding me that Tagines exist. My husband hasn’t made one for some time and he is the chef in our house. We have always had the lamb Tagine but this recipe looks so good. He doesn’t know it yet but we are going to have this for dinner this week. Also I’m looking forward to seeing your recipe for chicken Tagine with olives.

    Reply
    • Jill Colonna
      Jill Colonna says:

      Hehe, Thomasina. Sounds like you’re excellent at delegating. I need to learn your tips!
      Let me know how you liked it when hubby makes it.

      Reply
  2. Betty
    Betty says:

    I adore tagines, Jill! The first time I had one was, interestingly enough, an all vegetable one at a gorgeous restaurant called The Iron Gate Inn in Washington, DC. I ate there several times and I don’t remember trying anything else on their menu. Then, I convinced Victor that we had to go have Moroccan food when we were in Paris, as there was a restaurant across the street from our hotel in the 6th. Their tagine with olives and preserved lemon was super, although, they seemed to only be serving it with couscous to their Moroccan customers! All of the obvious tourists (like us), got baguette with it instead! Very odd, to say the least! So, I will look forward to your recipe for that tagine with great interest, as I would love to make it myself and in the meanwhile, I will try and convince Victor that he will not, as he suspects, expire on the spot, if a prune should pass his lips, so I can try out your recipe here!!!!

    Reply
    • Jill Colonna
      Jill Colonna says:

      You’ve no idea how much I laughed at the baguette and tourist story in Paris, Betty. Sorry you had to go through that. Also on Victor and prunes. I’m sure you’ll both love this one. Just imagine it especially for you as a special from the restaurant and without the baguette!

      Reply
    • Jill Colonna
      Jill Colonna says:

      We make curries throughout the year but somehow the tagine is the real comforter during the bitter winters. Stay cosy, Liz!

      Reply
  3. Christina Conte
    Christina Conte says:


    I am embarrassed to admit I’ve never had a tagine! I even had one that someone gave me and have no clue where it is now! I would love to try using it, and this recipe sounds delish! However, I will say, there’s no way we’d find those chicken thigh parts here, even at the butcher. Lucky you that your country’s food standards are so high!

    Reply
    • Jill Colonna
      Jill Colonna says:

      You have to try a tagine, Christina. Goes to show it’s a French thing. Don’t worry about the cuts. That’s why I say in the recipe to use normal chicken breasts or chicken pieces – but if you’re in France or see these, don’t ignore them. They do exist, it’s just up to us to find them when we can as a bonus!

      Reply
    • Cathy
      Cathy says:

      How did you stack your couscous so brilliantly?

      I love the macaroon touch to your meal!

      Tagines with prunes are my favorite… I never tell people I add prunes… they can be so funny about that precious dried fruit here in America.

      Reply
      • Jill Colonna
        Jill Colonna says:

        You made me laugh about the prunes. I always get some comment at home about them but when I add them, they’re even asking for second helpings – and another few prunes! Thanks for the macaron compliment. Aha – on the stacking, it was a last-minute idea for the photo: I used a plastic kitchen funnel (for decanting jams, for example), just packed in the couscous and upturned it. Couldn’t believe it worked!

        Reply
  4. Linda
    Linda says:

    This looks great and beautifully simple – and I’m a great prune fan. In fact I’ve just finished by breakfast of overnight oats, grated apple, yoghurt, seeds and nuts and prunes! Hadn’t heard of the oyster fowl, but I do know from picking clean a chicken carcasse in a thrifty Scottish way that they’re very tasty. I did a search for them on UK sites and only found a mention in that well known gourmet haven the Daily Mail. Apparently they appeared on a Master Chef episode this year. I’m not sure my local butcher in…Fochabers will rise to them!

    Reply
    • Jill Colonna
      Jill Colonna says:

      Thanks, Linda. Easy it certainly is! It will be so interesting to hear if you find butchers who sell this. Really, I’m bowled over by the oyster fowl and makes a super (and cheaper) change. They’ve had it on sale at our market for so long and only recently dared to find out more about them and cook with them. Wish had discovered them sooner! I linked to Wikipedia above on this – there’s an English equivalent but found that the French version was more explanatory.

      Reply

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