Chicken ‘Tagine’, or “oops, I forgot to take the chicken out of the freezer”

I wasn’t sure what I was going to cook with the frozen chicken breast fillets when I bought them, nor when I remembered to take them out of the freezer at 2pm yesterday afternoon. Oops! Well, they weren’t going to be defrosted in time for dinner, unless I put them in a low oven. But then they might dry out. Dilemma.

I came up with a plan. I wasn’t about to reinvent the wheel, but it was a plan nontheless. If I mixed my herbs and spices with a little oil, and brushed it on the chicken, the spices would cook out, flavour the meat, and hopefully keep it moist.

So, when we got back from the school run, via the park, and a comical incident between my 2nd son and a tiny Jack Russell. I shouldn’t have laughed – bad mummy! He probably dreamt of rat-sized dogs all night, bless him….anyway, where was I? Yes. I got to mixing my spices. As usual I kind of made it up as I went along, opening spice and herb pots, smelling, trying to create a balance of flavours. I think I got it just right, but knowing me I’ll tinker next time. Much to my husband’s despair.

The result…a resounding success. Except for the mushrooms. They’re never a resounding success in this house. Why do I keep buying them? They just cause arguments. And there’s lots of “is there any dessert?” As if the promise of a nice pud would magically make them easier to stomach!

I thought I’d share my recipe with you, dear reader. It is ridiculously simple to throw together, and feel free, as always, to tinker with the spice blend. This turned out quite mild, yet flavoursome, so feel free to add more chilli powder if you prefer it hotter, or leave it out altogether if you wish.

Also, you could make this dish with fresh, unfrozen chicken breast of course. Just adjust the cooking time a little.

Start by heating the oven to 180 c, and make your spice blend. Mix the following in a small bowl, then add 2 tsps Olive Oil and mix again to make a paste:
1 tsp Ground Cumin
1 tsp Mild Chilli Powder
1 tsp Paprika
1 tsp Oregano
1/2 tsp Turmeric
1/8 tsp (a ‘pinch’) Ground Cinnamon
1/8 tsp Nutmeg
1/4 tsp Salt
Ground Black Pepper

Brush the spice paste all over the top of the chicken, cover with a lid or foil, and cook for 30 minutes

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Meanwhile, mix the following ingredients in a jug or bowl:
1 tin Chopped Tomatoes
150 ml Passata
2 crushed cloves Garlic
Grated zest of a Lemon
A handful of Raisins or Sultanas
1 tsp Sugar

Also, chop an Onion, a Pepper and another soft vegetable, such as Courgette. I didn’t have one so I used The Dreaded Mushrooms.

When you take the chicken out of the oven, add the rest of the ingredients. Stir it all together well, and scrape the spice paste off the chicken a little with your spoon, to mix in to the sauce. The chicken portions in my packet were a bit of a mix of sizes, so I took the opportunity here to cut them down to more equal pieces.

Re-cover, and return to the oven for at least 40 minutes. You could turn the heat down really low and cook slowly for a while longer, until you need to eat.

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If I’d had some, I would have sprinkled chopped parsley or coriander over the top. I toyed with the idea of toasted flaked almonds, but decided to keep it simple.

Serve with Rice or Cous Cous, and some more vegetables. I say that because we are now being told we need to eat at least 7 portions of fruit and veg a day. Now that’s a challenge!

P.s please excuse the ‘winky-face’ at the end of this post. I’ve tried to delete it, but WordPress is determined to embarrass me today ;

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