The more of Dorie’s recipes I complete, the more I admire how she can take something that sounds complicated and make it so easy to execute. Or something that sounds so very different from what I’m used to and make it familiar and accessable.

Take the tagine, for instance, a North African dish called after the earthenware container it’s cooked in. Before last year, I’d never heard of it. Since coming back to the States, I’ve seen tagine cookware but that’s all. To me, the method seems similar to nabe-style in Japan, in which stews and soups are cooked in an earthen pot and served at the table family-style, with everyone eating from the pot as they please. It’s a very homey way of cooking and eating. We have a nabe, but I didn’t even think to use it for this dish. I’m curious as to how it might have worked. It certainly would have been easier to deal with at the table. I love my big green Dutch oven, but it tends to take up a lot of space!

This recipe starts out with chicken – I used chicken thighs because that’s what I had on hand. They went into the cast-iron skillet first for some browning.

Look at them and their lovely brown color. I’ve come to prefer thighs over breasts ever since I learned how to cook them.

Then they got put aside as I dealt with the rest of the dish. In Dorie’s version, a crapload of onions are thrown into the pot and allowed to simmer for a good half-hour, providing a base for the chicken to rest upon. Clearly, that was not going to fly in this house. Geordie and I do not eat onions. I will straight up admit that I have never cut – or even bought – an onion. I try to avoid even touching them. So I skipped that part.

The recipe called for prunes to be strewn on top of the onions. Geordie didn’t want that, so I substituted dried apricots. I’m thinking dried dates would also work.

Oh, and I left out the saffron. I didn’t think I could adequately explain to Geordie why I spent $15 bucks on a tablespoon’s worth of spice. Granted, a little bit of saffron goes a long way, but it’s not a spice I cook with often. I also left out the star anise because the grocery store didn’t even have any of that. But I did have the bay leaf! And the honey! And the cinnamon (fresh ground too!), so I used that and added a pinch of ground ginger just for luck. Maybe not the depth of flavor I would have gotten with the other spices, but it worked out just fine.

All that went into the pot with some chicken broth and water, and then the thighs went in to rest upon the apricots. These were followed by sweet potatoes.

The apricots are hiding under the chicken. They’re shy.

My sweet potatoes are a bit big, I think. My cutting skills still need work. But they cooked up just fine anyway.

Even though I only used half the chicken called for, I went ahead and used the original amount of sweet potatoes (and everything else too, really). Because I was serving the tagine with that crusty bread of mine, I figured the sweet potatoes had to serve as the vegetable, so I wanted plenty of them. Also, I love them. I can’t get enough of them.

At this point, I brought everything to a simmer, stuck on the lid, and left the pot simmering for 45 minutes.

Oh, that glorious simmering, filling the house with such delicious smells: chicken and sweet potato and the tantalizing undercurrent of honey and cinnamon. I was so hungry by the time I finally pulled this off the stove and set it on the table.

Chicken thighs have convinced me that bone-in is definitely a good thing. I could not have been happier with this dish.

Such sweet succulence! Yes, it was definitely on the sweet side. Sweet and warm and soothing. Another lovely autumn meal. I could easily see doing this again. It was easy to put together and required no baby-sitting at all. I came into this meal having no idea what a tagine was or what to expect from it; quite frankly, I’ve had my doubts. But Dorie won me over easily (maybe it was the sweet potatoes. or the thighs. I do love me some chicken thighs.) and it’s definitely something I’d consider making again.

If only it would get colder and more autumn-like! I feel like I’m doing all the work here. My only consolation is knowing that snow will never be a problem here. While I’d be happier with some crisper weather and the opportunity to put on a jacket, I’m just as happy not having to worry about snow. It’s a small price to pay.

To see how this dish should have been cooked, hop on over to French Fridays with Dorie and check out what the other cooks did with their tagine. Looking good!

Well, except for those onions, of course. But, otherwise, definitely looking good!

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