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FOR THE SPICE MIX
(Wherever you can, buy whole spices and grind just before use. Trust me, it makes a world of difference, especially the cumin) 3 ½ Tbsp. sweet paprika, 1 tsp. garlic powder, 2 tsp. ground cumin, cinnamon, 3 Tbsp. ground coriander, 1 Tbsp. plus 1 tsp. ground turmeric, 1 Tbsp. ground ginger, ½ tsp. ground cardamom, 2 ½ tsp. ground all spice
FOR THE TAGINE
8 chicken thighs, approximately 3 pounds
2 Tbsp spice mix
⅓ c. extra-virgin olive oil
3 Roma tomatoes
1 head cauliflower, cut into bite-size florets
1 large white onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, diced
1 Tbsp. grated fresh ginger
1 pinch saffron
1 tsp. tomato paste
2 c. chicken stock, homemade or low-sodium
3 Tbsp. preserved lemons, approximately 2 lemons, roughly chopped
1 c. green olives, like Castelvetranos
½ bunch cilantro, leaves picked and stems discarded.
Combine the spices in a dry sauté pan set over low heat, and toast them gently until they release their fragrance, 2 minutes or so. Transfer to a bowl, and allow to cool.
Preheat oven to 350F. Season the chicken thighs with salt, pepper, and 2 tablespoons of the spice mix and add 2 tablespoons of olive oil.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat, and set a large bowl of ice water to the side. Core the tomatoes, and score an X on their bottoms. Boil the cauliflower florets in the water for 3 minutes, then submerge in ice water. Boil the tomatoes for 20 seconds then chill in ice water as well. Remove the cauliflower when it is cold, and pat dry. Peel the skin from the tomatoes then cut into quarters lengthwise. Trim away the seeds to make petals.
Heat the remaining olive oil in a large sauté pan set over medium heat, and sear the chicken in batches, starting skin-side down, until the thighs are browned. Remove the chicken to a large Dutch oven or tagine pot. Remove all but two tablespoons of the fat in pan, then return it to the heat, and brown the cauliflower and add to the chicken.
Reduce heat below the pan, and add the onion, garlic, ginger and saffron. Cook, stirring, until the onions are translucent, approximately 5 minutes. Add tomato paste and chicken stock, and simmer until reduced by 1/3.
Pour sauce over the chicken and cauliflower, cover the pot and transfer to oven for 20 minutes. Remove, stir in the tomatoes, preserved lemon and olives, then cover the pot again and cook for an additional 20 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through. Serve the chicken in the pot, garnished with the cilantro leaves, with couscous. Reserve remaining spice mix for the next batch or another use. It keeps well in a sealed container.