"This is one of the Moroccan tajines in Claudia Roden's lovely book, Arabesque. I've chipped little. It's sweet, so I like it served with couscous or rice that has had chopped preserved lemon tired through it as well as herbs). I need something fresh and sharp as a contrast,"
1lb 2oz shallots or baby onions
2 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper
¾ lb chicken, skin on, cut into 8 pieces
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
good pinch of saffron strands
1 tbsp liquid honey
1 tbsp unsalted butter
4 small sweet ripe pears, peeled quartered, and cored
flaked almonds or sesame seeds, toasted to serve
SERVES 4 TO 6
To peel the shallots or baby onions, blanch them in boiling water for 5 minutes, then drain. When they're cool enough to handle, pecl off the skins and trim the root ends.
Heat the olive oil in a pan large enough to hold all the chicken pieces in a single layer. Season the chicken and brown it all over. You aren't trying to cook it through just get some good color.
Transfer to a plate
Discard all but about 1 tablespoon of the fat left behind in the pan and add the onion. Cook over medium heat until soft and golden. Add the ginger and cinnamon and cook for 2 minutes. Add about 1 cup of boiling water, and then the saffron, stirring to help dissolve the strands. Return the chicken to the pan and cook, covered, over low heat, for about 15 minutes. Add the shallots or baby onions and continue to cook, covered for another 20 to 25 minutes. (The chicken is cooked when it is tender and, when a thick piece is pierced near the bone with the tip of a sharp knife, the juices that run have no trace of pink.) Turn the chicken pieces over and stir gently every so often. Add a little more water if you need to.
Lift out the chicken and set aside. Stir the honey into the pan. Cook, uncovered, until the liquid has really evaporated and the onions are brown and caramelized and so: that you could crush them, as the Moroccans say, "with your tongue." At the same time, melt the butter in a skillet and sauté the pears over medium heat until they are tender and golden. Season
Return the chicken to the pan for a final time, spoon the onions on top, and heat through. Put the pears on top, scatter everything with the almonds or sesame seeds, and serve.