Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Braised Chicken with Winter Squash & Dates

My friend Linda and I love talking about food and sharing recipes whenever we had a break at work.  Her passion for cooking and experimenting in the kitchen is just as intense as mine.  The way we move our hands while describing a dish or the way our facial expressions change with utmost pleasure every time we exchange ideas is something that no one, other than foodies, can really understand.  It is a pure delight to talk with Linda about my favourite hobby in life.  She is such a kind and generous person to converse with and who truly cares about people she gets along with.   Come to think of it, I can't think of anyone she doesn't get along with.  At the same time, she knows her limits and knows when to say no.  She isn't a Miss Goodie Two Shoes either but a woman who knows exactly what she wants and what she loves.  

Today, I'm so glad that we are still keeping in touch after I made my career move about a month ago to work for a non-profit organization.  She and I have been exchanging emails on food and recipes and cool kitchen gadgets that we both adore.   For my company departure gift, she had the greatest idea to have the team offer me a tajine, which I already talked about in an older post.  I continue talking about it because this tajine has become my new best friend in my beloved kitchen.  Its shape is purposefully designed to infuse the spices and herbs in your vegetables and meats.  The result is phenomenal.  Plus, it ain't ugly either.  A tajine is actually quite beautiful to look at.  So when you are receiving guests, there is absolutely no need to transfer your food to a serving dish.  The tajine is a serving dish.

This wonderful chicken with winter squash and dates dish is full of incredible flavour which explodes in your mouth once you've had your first bite.  Of course, it is a recipe that was just given to me last week by Linda herself.  The fragrance of the spices and the sweetness of the dates is out of this world.

Thank you Linda for this superb recipe!  Send me more and I'll be glad to test them and talk about them.  And before I forget...I could not believe how easy it was to prepare it.  The hardest part was to cut the squash carefully.  Being known as extremely clumsy, I have sliced my fingers and hands a few times.

Preparation time : 10 minutes, Cooking time : 25-30 minutes

Recipe "au pif":
1 lb boneless and skinless chicken thighs, cut in large chunks
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 1/4 tsp coriander seeds
1 tsp ground cinnamon
a pinch of saffron
1 1/4 cup chicken stock
1 large winter squash, diced 1 inch chunks (I used a carnival squash)
6 dates, pitted
1 orange peel
handful of fresh coriander to garnish, coarsely chopped
roasted slivered almonds to garnish (optional)
2 tbsp olive oil

Preheat oven at 350F

Heat oil in the tajine base and stir in the onions, garlic, cumin seeds, coriander seeds, cinnamon and saffron for about 2 minutes or until the until have softened a little.

Gently add the chicken and stir until all sides are lightly browned

Slowly pour in the chicken stock and lower the heat the medium, cover with Tajine lid (dome), and let it simmer for about 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare the squash by carefully peeling and dicing it.

Remove dome and add in the diced squash, the orange peel and the dates.

Put the lid back on and carefully place the tajine in the oven to bake for about 15-20 minutes.

Spices should slowly infuse in the chicken and squash giving the dish incredible flavour.

When done, remove from the oven, slowly remove the lid and sprinkle the coriander and almonds (I didn't have almonds but it still tasted out of this world).

Serve with coucous, rice or a side dish of vegetables.

Serves 4 people (or 2 very hungry people, that would be us!)

If you do try this recipe, please do let me know how you liked it.

Share and enjoy!

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