At present I am on a brief one week hiatus from Veil. I am in Arizona, feeding people.
You may be confused. Technically I feed people all week, month, year at the restaurants I work in. Technically.
But don’t we all know, really, that no one goes to a fancy restaurant to be fed? We go to have experiences. We go to dress up and feel more than ourselves, to taste, see, smell, observe, absorb things far outside our everyday life, drink more wine than we should, eat enough calories to put a bear into hibernation and part with days worth of a paycheck. We go to excite ourselves, to break from the daily routine of feeding ourselves.
So I spend my time making these out of the ordinary expernience exceptional, but make no mistake, I am not feeding people.
But this week I have been brought to Arizona by my wonderful husband to cook for the group he has brought to Tucson for a cycling camp. You see, my husband is not in my industry. (He trains endurance athletes, specializing in cyclists.) So here I am, feeding people breakfast lunch and dinner. Not blowing them away, not exciting their senses, not teasing their notions of food. Just feeding them.
It’s a real delight to cook like this. To nourish.
Tonights dinner began as a Moroccan chicken tagine. What came out of the pan was bastardized enough that I will for ever call it chicken with apricot sauce, or something like that. The chicken was simmered in covered pans in a chicken stock spiced with cinnamon, garlic, cumin, and ginger. When the meat began to fall from the bone, the chicken was removed from the simmering sauce. Dried apricots, poached in honey and water were pureed with the simmer sauce and poured over the chicken.
The guests went back for thirds.
It was as satisfying to make as it was to eat, and this recipe, made to feed a hungry crowd has earned a place in my home files. For those rare occasions I cook simply to feed someone.
Chicken with Apricot Sauce
Serve with couscous
Two chickens, cut into quarters
One yellow onion, minced
6 cloves garlic, minced
3 inches of ginger, grated on a microplane or minced
2 tsp paprika
1 tbsp cinnamon
1 tsp coriander
1 tsp cumin
3 cinnamon sticks
4 bay leaves
1/4 cup orange marmelade
2 cups chicken stock
1/2 pound dried aprciots, cut in pieces
1/2 cup honey
2 cups water
toasted pine nuts
1. Salt the chicken pieces and brown them well on both sides. Set aside.
2. Drain all but 1/4 cup of the oil from the pan and add the onions. Cook 3 minutes over medium low heat until translucent. Add the ginger and garlic and cook for one minute more.
3. Add the cinnamon, paprika, cumin, and corriander, stir and cook one minute. Add the marmelade and stir until melted.
4. Arrange the chicken over the stuff in the pan, and add the chicken stock. Toss in the cinnamon sticks and bay leaves. Cover and simmer over low heat for 1 hour.
5. Remove the lid, turn the pieces of chicken, and continue simmering with the lid on for 30 more minutes.
6. Meanwhile, cook the apricots with the honey and water. Bring to a boil and cook for 20 minutes.
7. Remove the chicken from the simmering liquid and set on a serving platter with sides to hold a sauce. Discard the cinnamon sticks and bay leaf
8. In a blender, puree the simmer sauce with the cooked apricots and their liquid. This will need to be done in 3 batches.
9. Salt the sauce to taste and pour over the chicken.