Chicken and Chickpea Tagine with Apricots and Harissa Sauce

This recipe by Bobby Flay on the Food Network uses not one but two North African spice blends, ras el hanout and harissa sauce. Harissa sauce has more heat. You can buy both spice blends pre-made, but we include the spice mixtures here and here in separate blog entries for anyone who wants to make them from scratch.

2 Tbsp canola oil
8 chicken thighs
salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 large yellow onion, peeled, halved, and thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 Tbsp ras el hanout
large pinch saffron, soaked in ¼ cup warm water
1 cinnamon stick
1½ cups canned diced tomatoes, drained (15-ounce can)
1½ cups canned chickpeas, rinsed and drained (15-ounce can)
¾ cup dried apricots, sliced into half moons
Harissa Sauce, recipe follows
Chopped flat-leaf parsley, for garnish
Chopped fresh cilantro leaves, for garnish

1. Preheat oven to 400° F.

2. Heat canola oil in a large Dutch oven or a tagine over high heat. Season chicken with salt and pepper on both sides and place in the hot pan, skin side down, in batches if needed; cook until golden brown. Turn the thighs over and cook for 2 minutes longer. Remove chicken to a plate.

3. Remove all but 2 Tbsp of the oil from the pan then add the olive oil and heat over medium heat. Add the onions and cook until soft. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add the ras el hanout and cook another 30 seconds. Add the saffron with the soaking liquid, cinnamon stick, tomatoes, chickpeas, and apricots and bring to a simmer. Nestle the chicken into the mixture and bring to a simmer. Cover and cook on the stovetop or in the oven for 35 to 40 minutes or until the chicken is tender. Do not remove the lid to check on the chicken until this time. Garnish each serving with a dollop of Harissa Sauce, parsley and cilantro.

Harissa Sauce:
½ cup creme fraiche
1 Tbsp harissa*

Whisk all ingredients together in a small bowl and let stand at least 30 minutes in the refrigerator before serving.

Serves 4.

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