A Weekend Trip to Morocco

Though no passport stamps were acquired (boo)...we did dine on a divine chicken tagine for dinner. 

For the non-Moroccan foodies out there, a tagine is in fact both a braised Moroccan dish and a stoneware container (see exhibit A above). Even if you don't have one of these magic looking baking dishes, with the right ingredients and your slow cooker, you can make the warm, stew-like dish taste like it's straight out of Marrakesh. 

I remember my first Moroccan food experience very distinctly.  One warm summer day in Provence, after having eaten about thirty too many crêpes au Nutella et bananes for lunch, my francophone college friends and I noticed a little Moroccan restaurant nestled in our French village. 
Because I grew up in Southwest Missouri, I wasn't sure what to expect from this exotic cuisine.  But the minute our waiter brought out a bright red tagine, which looked to me more like Aladdin's lamp than lunch, I was intrigued. As I caught my first whiff of cinnamon and cumin and cayenne, and then tasted the strangely delicious combination of apricots and chickpeas and chicken, I delighted in that new food experience.  

While I've never fully been able to repeat the wonder of that first taste of tagine, I have come close on a couple of occasions, this weekend included.  Each time I catch that uniquely North African scent of sweet, savory and spicey, I am whisked back to the South of France and can taste my youth. 

For this most recent attempt as the chicken tagine, I adapted a recipe from food.com:
Since I was slow cooking the chicken, I decided to sauté some onions and garlic before adding to the crock pot for some flavor.
Amazingly, most Moroccan spices were already in my pantry (I like how the honey bear seems to be guarding the cumin in this photo).
While I am a little dark chicken phobic, boneless skinless chicken thighs were perfect for this dish as they added some much richer flavor and were about half the price of chicken breasts.  After cooking all afternoon, the chicken was so shredded that I couldn't even tell it was dark meat. 
I added 5 carrots, some frozen peas, diced dried mangoes and green olives to the recipe.
Serve the chicken tagine atop some whole wheat cous cous for an extra yummy treat.
Image of the blue Le Creuset tagine borrowed from DeliciousMagazine

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