Cold weather means comfort food. It is a welcome change because most comfort food involve the ease of one pot meal. Fewer dishes to wash is always a good thing. With the release of Yotam Ottolenghi’s and Sami Tamimi’s new publication Jerusalem: A Cookbook, my love for Middle Eastern flavours is renewed. I had the pleasure to attend their book signing / interview event last Sunday. Their passion for cooking and sharing familiar tastes of their childhood inspired me to explore further into the vibrant world of Middle Eastern cuisine. What a lucky coincidence that this week’s recipe for French Fridays with Dorie is Chicken Tagine with Sweet Potatoes and Prunes.
I made the recipe in half portion with four pieces of chicken thigh braised in the fragrant broth of saffron, onion, prunes, and sweet potatoes. The hint of cinnamon, star anise, bay leaf, Aleppo pepper, and honey added depth and sweet complexity. You may wonder why my tagine was tinted a rich shade of saffron through and through, including the sweet potatoes. The secret was satsumaimo, Japanese sweet potato.
Sweet potato comes in many varieties. The ones we most commonly see in North American grocery store have bright orange flesh. I grew up in Hong Kong enjoying a few other types including purple or yellow flesh sweet potatoes. Those are typically sweeter and more starchy than their North American counterparts. I love their fluffy texture, not unlike a good roasted russet potato. They are always a treat in winter. I’ve been known to roast a half dozen on weekends and eat one for dinner every night.
Aside from my simple substitution of satsumaimo and Aleppo pepper, I followed the original recipe to a T. I do not yet have a firm grasp of the cuisine so a bit of handholding is useful. While delicious, I consider this a gateway recipe into the world of Middle Eastern cuisine. The ingredients are easy to source in North America and the taste inspires travel to more exotic places. I served the tagine with Israeli couscous tossed with fresh dill. It would be a waste not to have something to mop up the delicious broth! This is a recipe that I longed to make and I am glad that it finally won the nomination. I hope other bloggers love it as much as I did too.