The very first entry in our original Zesty Five was from the Felicity Cloake’s “How to cook the perfect…” column in the Guardian. If you’re not familiar with the column, each week Felicity takes on a classic dish, researching a variety of recipes and combining them into her own perfect version. That week Felicity took on the Moroccan classic: the Chicken Tagine.
Just a few days later on a glorious Easter Saturday, Jane and I decided to make a visit to Sydney Park. On the spur of the moment we decided we were close enough to Alexandria to walk over to The Grounds for lunch — hoping that it might be quieter than usual thanks to the holiday weekend. Well, we were wrong:
The place was packed thanks to their first birthday markets! We quickly gave up on a sit-down lunch, though we did share a burger. Instead we embraced the markets, and as luck would have it came across these little preserved beauties:
As they say: when life gives you markets, buy lemons! Or something like that, anyway. In fact we also picked up some lovely olives from the chatty man on the Salt Meats Cheese stand — I think you can see where this is going!
This was all the motivation we needed to take on Felicity’s tagine recipe. And by “we”, I mean Jane, because in this case I must admit I barely lifted a finger. Jane made a couple of modifications, in particular breaking down a whole chicken instead of using just thighs (this was the best chicken we could get with the skin intact), and using a cast iron pan rather than an actual tagine. But by and large she kept it true to Felicity’s formula, and the results speak for themselves:
The meat, including the breast, was succulent and flavourful – although I note that only the thigh stays just as juicy when reheated. There is a wonderful burst of flavour from the olives, preserved lemon and coriander — the things that originally drew me to this dish. But the real star is the broth. Felicity’s recipe shows restraint with the spices, and includes just enough water. There’s enough volume to soak through your cous cous, yet little enough to allow all the spices and juices to concentrate. Felicity nailed this recipe, and Jane prepared it perfectly. What a lucky trip to The Grounds that turned out to be!