Sunday, May 20, 2012

Tagine of Chicken and Fava Beans

Bowl of Chicken Fava Tagine
Delightful Combination of Flavors

Recipe adapted from Cooking Light, May 2006

Today’s new moon ushers in the energetic high point of this Year of the Dragon, according to Chinese tradition. From May 20 – June 18, the Dragon Moon intensifies characteristics of the Water Dragon Year, including creativity, good luck, and accomplishment. So perhaps it’s the energy of the Dragon that made this recipe turn out perfectly the first time. Or maybe I just got lucky. In any case, this is my husband’s favorite of the many ways I’ve tried fixing fava beans.

Spice Rubbed Chicken Browning in Pan
Browned Spiced Chicken
What makes this dish work is that the tomatoes and spice stand up to the strong taste of the fava beans. Note that favas and tomatoes are not in season at the same time, so I used canned plum tomatoes. You could substitute fresh plum tomatoes if you like. I doubled the spices from the original recipe, which called for canned chickpeas, again to stand up to the flavor of the favas. It’s  moderately spicy. You can adjust the spices however you like. Try reducing the black pepper and/or ginger if you like things a bit milder. I would not reduce the paprika or turmeric, as they lend the dish its distinctive color as well as flavor. My husband suggested using smoky paprika to replace some of the sweet paprika, a delicious-sounding variation. Do use a good paprika with complex flavor, like La Odalisca, for optimum flavor.

So back to the Dragon time of the Dragon year: let’s get out there and celebrate, give thanks for the wealth and creativity that we already have, and expect some larger-than-life events this year. If you’re in the western US or Canada, enjoy the eclipse of the sun today, and please do so safely, or check out online feeds. May the Dragon’s good fortune rain down on all of us!

Tagine Cooking: Adding the Fava Beans
Contrasts in Color and Flavor
Tagine of Chicken and Fava Beans
serves 4 - 6

2 tsp. Hungarian sweet paprika, or more
1 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. turmeric
½ tsp. black pepper
2 lbs. skinless boneless chicken thighs
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 ½  cup chopped onion (2 small)
½ cup sliced leek (1 medium)
28 oz. can of whole plum tomatoes
¼ tsp. salt
1 ¾ lbs.  fava beans
4 tbsp. chopped cilantro
cilantro sprigs for garnish
fresh ground sea salt

Shell fava beans and drop into boiling water for 2 minutes. Remove from water with slotted spoon, immediately plunging beans into ice water to chill quickly. Remove skin from each bean by pinching off a bit of the skin on one end and squeezing from the other end to pop the bean out into a bowl. Drain off any water that accumulates in the bowl during this process.

Slice each whole tomato in half and remove seeds and liquid inside. Chop coarsely and measure 2 cups. If you don’t quite have 2 cups, strain tomato liquid and add to bring level up to 2 cups.

Mix together the spices in a bowl. Sprinkle and pat evenly onto both sides of the chicken parts.

Heat large nonstick skillet on medium high. Add olive oil and sauté chicken on both sides until lightly browned, about 3 - 4 minutes on each side. Remove chicken to cutting board.

While chicken is cooling, sauté onions and leeks in same pan, over medium high, stirring to coat with spices, about 3 minutes. Slice chicken into ½ inch strips and add to onion. Sauté on medium high another 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Stir in chopped tomatoes and salt and bring to boil. Cover and lower heat to medium. Cook for 10 minutes. Stir in fava beans and cook another 10 minutes, or until favas are done to your liking.

Stir in cilantro and serve. Top with cilantro sprigs, or additional chopped cilantro. A bit of fresh-ground sea salt on top of each serving brings out the flavors.

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