I met my husband at work. I was young, just out of college, and was instantly smitten by this sophisticated New Yorker with his jazzy ties. We were friends at first, wasting countless work hours in whispered conversations in office cubicles, commiserating over our love lives, and talking about food.
Yes, food. I liked his ties, but I fell in love with his appetite and enthusiasm for food. We could talk for hours about great meals, favorite restaurants, and food memories. Our first dates were spent cooking for each other, timidly revealing our cooking repertoire.
Over a decade later, Steve and I are still equally passionate about each other, and about food. Our tastes have evolved, but they’ve evolved in sync. Chances are that if I see something in a cookbook that looks good to me, it will look good to him too. We’re suckers for a sweet savory combination, like Cider Braised Pork Roast.
Last week, I made a chicken dish based on another recipe in the Dorie Greenspan Around my French Table Cookbook, Chicken Tagine with Sweet Potatoes and Prunes. I had never made it before, but I knew, before Steve walked in through the door, that it would be a winner. I used dates instead of prunes, and left out some of the spicier exotic ingredients in the recipe. The resulting dish was the perfect fall dinner, sweet, savory, and a rainbow of golden reds, browns, and yellows.
Not only was it delicious, but it was one of those throw it together and leave it alone to cook dishes, perfect to set up a romantic candlelight dinner.
Chicken Tagine with Sweet Potatoes and Dates (adapted from Dorie Greenspan’s Around my French Table cookbook)
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour and a half
1/4 cups of olive oil
1/2 large yellow onion, chopped finely
1/2 cup of water
1 chicken, cut into 8 pieces
2 large pinches of saffron threads, crushed
1/4 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
1 bay leaf
4 tablespoons of honey
1 cup of chicken broth (preferably homemade)
12 chopped and pitted dates
1 pound of sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 2-inch cubes
- Pour two tablespoons of vegetable oil in the bottom of a dutch oven or cast iron casserole over medium-low heat. Now add the onion, stirring to coat it with oil, then add 1 tablespoon of water, season with a little salt, and cover the pot. Cook the onions gently for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until they are soft but not brown.
- In a separate skillet, brown the chicken. Heat a tablespoon of the olive oil over medium heat. Put the chicken in the pan, skin side down, and brown for 3-4 minutes on each side. Transfer it to a plate.
- Once the onions are soft, add the saffron, honey, bay leaf, chicken broth, and the rest of the water. Throw in the dates, and then the chicken. Toss the sweet potatoes on top and bring the mixture to a boil.
- Reduce the heat to medium, bringing the liquid to a low simmer. Cover and cook for 45 minutes to an hour. Resist the temptation to lift the lid before the 45 minute mark. The steam is what makes this dish so good. The dish is done once the sweet potatoes are soft.
- Feel free to reduce the liquid once the chicken is cooked. Just remove the chicken and sweet potatoes and boil the liquid until it is a consistency to your liking. We left ours as is: my man likes a lot of sauce.
- Serve immediately, but don’t get rid of leftovers. This dish was even better the next day.