April Daring Cooks / Chipoltle Chicken Tagine with Eggplant and Chickpea

Our April 2012 Daring Cooks hosts were David & Karen from Twenty-Fingered Cooking. They presented us with a very daring and unique challenge of forming our own recipes by using a set list of ingredients. At least one from each list must be used! Here are the lists!
List 1: Parsnips, Eggplant (aubergine), Cauliflower
List 2: Balsamic Vinegar, Goat Cheese, Chipoltle peppers
List 3: Maple Syrup, Instant Coffee, Bananas
This months challenge completely freaked me out in the beginning! I have never done anything like this! I love my cookbooks so to come up with a recipe of my own was very intimidating. However, as the month ticked away I began to add more and more to my list of ideas. Finally, I decided to do a tagine. Tagine can either be referred to style of cooking and or the vessel in which it is cooked. It is commonly used in Morocco. A tagine (the vessel) is usually a glazed clay shallow dish and has a funneled top lid. It can be used to brown the meats and then is typically placed in a slow oven to finish the dish off (or it can continue on the stove on low with the lid.) A tagine dish (the style) can consist of any type of meat or even be vegetrian. In Morocco there is a special blend of spices that are typically used in tagine cooking called Ras El Hanout. The mix can include over 30 spices. I found my blend at World Market, but there are recipes on the web so that you can craft your own. I received a tagine for my birthday (Thanks Hunny! – I have the best hubby ever 🙂 ) Currently I have a glass top electric stove (hopefully switching to gas soon!) so I was leery of using my beautiful tagine. I browned my meats and sautéd my veggies in a skillet and transferred everything to my tagine for the oven (even though I wasn’t cooking it slowly, I suppose you could adapt the temp and time if you wanted).

For my chicken tagine, I used the eggplant as an accompanying veggie. I used balsamic vinegar to soak my chicken (In Morocco they soak their chicken in a mixture of vinegar and water before cooking.) I also used chipoltle mixed in with my tomato paste. A friend’s secret recipe for tomato sauce includes coffee to enhance the taste so I figured I would give it a try. List 1: Eggplant, List 2: Balsamic Vinegar and Chipotle, List 3: Coffee. Looks like I’ve got my ingrediants covered so without further ado:


1-1.5 lbs. chicken ( I used some beautiful breasts I had frozen (I just cut them into cutlets), but I think thigh meat would also be a wonderful choice.)
2 tbl Balsamic Vinegar
2 cups water
2-3 tbl oil
3 small cans tomato paste
1.5 tbl instant coffee
2-2.5 tbl Ras el Hanout
1\2 of 7 ounce can of chipoltle chopped (you could add the whole if you like really spicy food)
1 can Chickpeas-liquid drained and reserved
1 meduim onion diced
1 eggplant peeled and diced.
1 cherry tomatos -halved
(optional 1 cup toasted pinenuts)

-Combine water and vinegar. Place chicken cutlets into solution and let soak for 10 min.
-In small-medium bowl combine tomato paste with ras el hanout and instant coffee until evenly mixed. Add the chipotle and incorporate. Finally add the reserved chickpea liquid until substance is sauce consistency. Set aside.
– Rinse off cutlets and pat dry. Discard vinegar mixture.
-Heat 2 tbl oil in medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Brown chicken evenly on both sides (2-3 min per side depending on how thick your cutlets are.) Remove from skillet to tagine.
– Add the extra tablespoon of oil to skillet if needed. Add the onion and sauté until translucent. Next add the eggplant and sauté making sure all sides are browned evenly.
-Remove from heat and mix in chickpeas and cherry tomatoes. Pour veggie mixture over chicken in tagine. (or any oven proof baking vessel – if your skillet is oven safe and can hold everything feel free to use it) Top veggies and chicken with chipoltle tomato sauce.
-Place in oven and bake about 45 min or until the internal temperature of the chicken is 180 degrees. Remove from oven. If using pine nuts you may either stir in or sprinkle on top.

This is just a starting point. Tagines are so versatile I urge you to make it your own. As it is,it was a little spicy for my taste but my husband adored it. Either way I was happy with my results. It would be nice served with some couscous on the side and maybe even some goat cheese on the top!
Dream. Bake. Believe.
Love, Steffie


3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Susie Bee on Maui
    Apr 14, 2012 @ 13:22:51

    Congrats on a great recipe; adding the couscous and goat cheese sounds really good too!


  2. Jenni
    Apr 14, 2012 @ 15:00:27

    Great job! Your tagine looks awesome!


  3. Bryt
    Apr 14, 2012 @ 21:52:48

    Looks delicious. I had bought my sister a tagine for Christmas, but it’s just been sitting there since we have no idea how to use it! Might have to follow your recipe to give ourselves a kick start 🙂


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