I’m loving the new Jamie Oliver ‘Jamie Does’ series on C4 – even though he used to really annoy me what with his years of monkeying around on that moped and getting all his ‘mates’ on camera for ‘spontaneous’ lunches and high jinks, not to mention those cheesy Sainsbury’s ads peppered with cliched Mockney-isms – he really redeems himself in this programme. Throughout his travels to Morocco, Spain and so on, he shows nothing but total respect for the people he meets along the way and good humour when people take the piss out of him. Which of course they do, a lot.
Which is such a contrast to Gordon ‘potty mouth’ Ramsay, who horrified me with his arrogance and total bad manners in his recent series Gordon’s Great Escape where he travelled around India, or should I say shouted his way around the country like some boorish show-off. If it weren’t for the fact that his recipes are usually amazing, I’d like to give him a slap.
Anyway, I digress. Jamie made an incredible looking chicken and fennel tagine during his trip to Morocco. Annoyingly, you can’t get this recipe online yet, which will force you to buy the book of the series when it comes out. But we couldn’t wait – we wanted to make it now. So my husband N made up his own version, which you can enjoy below. It’s bloody delicious and so easy to make. Obviously it helps if you own a tagine, though! (er, how bloody middle class did I just sound then, but you can buy them in all good cookshops now…) N’s dad and step-mum gave him the one below for Christmas, and in our tiny kitchen we’ve designated it its own special shelf because we love it so much!
Serves 4 – 6
You will need:
1 tagine (or you could you a heavy based casserole with a tight fitting lid)
1 large 2kg jointed organic freerange chicken – if you buy it in a butchers, ask them to joint it for you and cut it into bits
2 bulbs fennel, cut into quarters
1 large onion, cut into rings
1 med onion, diced
3 – 4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 thumb fresh ginger, peeled and grated
1 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp ground white pepper
2 pinches saffron
1/2 tsp paprika
1 heaped tsp Ras el Hanout (a Moroccan spice mixture)
1 tsp ground coriander
300 ml chicken stock
10 fat green pitted olives
1 preserved lemon, pips and flesh removed, rind chopped into 4 large pieces – a good brand is Belazu
Generous handful each of chopped fresh parsley and coriander
Brown the chicken pieces in oil for several minutes until they have a nice golden colouring. Put to one side, then pour a couple of tablespoons of oil into the base part of your tagine (or your cookpot). Chuck in the onion rings, then mix the chicken pieces in a separate bowl with the diced onion, garlic, grated ginger and spices. Put the chicken, onion and spice mixture into the tagine base and add half a cup of stock.
Put the fennel quarters, chopped preserved lemon rind and olives around and on top of the chicken, squeezing them into the gaps. Everything should look roughly like this:
Now put your tagine base with all its bounty on a low heat (using a heat diffuser under your tagine is a good idea so that everything cooks evenly) and put the conical hat lid on and simmer away (the lowest simmer possible) for about 2 hours, until the meat is tender and comes away easily from the bone and the fennel is tender. Sprinkle with the fresh chopped parsley and coriander.
Serve with couscous to mop up all the delicious juices. Enjoy the sense of drama when you remove the lid of the tagine at the table…