Chicken Tagine with Apricots and Almonds

Yield: Makes 4 servings

Active Time: 30 minutes Total time: 1.5 hours

1 ts ground cinnamon

1 ts ground ginger

½ ts turmeric

½ ts black pepper

1 ¼ ts salt

3 tbsp plus ¼ cup olive oil

1 (3-lb chicken, cut into pieces)

1 tbsp butter

1 medium red onion, halved, then sliced ¼ inch thick

4 garlic cloves, finely chopped

5 fresh cilantro sprigs

5 flat-leaf parsley sprigs

1 ½ cups water

2 tbsp mild honey

1 (3-inch) cinnamon stick

½ cup dried Turkish apricots, separated into halves

1/3 cup whole blanched almonds

special equipment: 1 10 to 12 inch tagine or heavy skillet, kitchen string

Stir together ground cinnamon, ginger, turmeric, pepper, 1 ts salt, and 2 tbsp oil in a large bowl. Add chicken and turn to coat well.

Heat butter and 1 tbsp oil in base of tagine (or in a skillet), uncovered, over moderate heat until hot but not smoking, then brown half the chicken, skin sides down, turning over once, 8 to 12 minutes. Transfer to a plate. Brown remaining chicken in the same manner, adding any spice mixture left in bowl.

Add onion and remaining ¼ ts salt to tagine and cook, uncovered, stirring frequently, until soft, about 8 minutes. Add garlic and cook, string occasionally, 3 minutes. Tie cilantro and parsley into a bundle with kitchen string and add to tagine along with ½ cup water, chicken, and any juices accumulated on the plate. Reduce and simmer, covered, 30 minutes.

While chicken cooks, bring honey, remaining cup of water, cinnamon stick, and apricots to a boil in a 1 to 2 quart heavy saucepan, then reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, until apricots are very tender (add more water in necessary). Once apricots are tender, simmer until liquid is reduced to a glaze, 10 to 15 minutes.

While apricots cook, heat remaining ¼ cup oil in a small skillet over moderate heat and cook almonds, stirring occasionally, until just golden, 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer with a slotted spoon to paper towels to drain.

Ten minutes before chicken is done, add apricot mixture to tagine. Discard herbs and cinnamon stick, then serve chicken sprinkled with almonds on top.

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