July 28, 2016

Chicken Tagine With Olives, Chickpeas And Pine Nuts

Recipe: Floyd Cardoz

Floyd Cardoz, Bravo’s Top Chef Season 3 winner, shares a recipe for Chicken Tagine With Olives, Chickpeas And Pine Nuts from his new cookbook Flavorwalla.

Whenever I use butcher’s twine in cooking, I remember this dish. There is no exotic connection between these two events other than the fact that we store both the spools of twine and our tagine in the laundry room, where — I admit — I only ever go if I’m looking for twine. Invariably while searching for the twine, I see the tagine and begin craving this meal. But there’s far more to this dish than happenstance. It’s a hearty and nourishing one-pot dinner that comes together quickly once the ingredients are chopped. And while the ingredients list might look long at first glance, it’s made up entirely of pantry and freezer staples. Which is a good thing, because I go on the hunt for twine pretty often!

Traditional tagines are made of clay, but the one I use has a heavy stainless steel base and a terracotta lid. It’s durable and easy to clean, and it can be placed directly on a burner, unlike the traditional versions. You can also use a Dutch oven or stew pot.

Throw in the whole chipotle for milder flavor or cut it in half if you want bolder flavor.


  • 1½ pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, excess fat removed, cut in half
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 lemons
  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • One 1-inch piece cinnamon stick
  • 2 whole cloves
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 2 cups minced onions
  • 4 garlic cloves, smashed
  • 1 tablespoon minced peeled fresh ginger
  • 2 tablespoons sweet paprika
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 2 red or green bell peppers, cored, seeds and ribs removed, and diced
  • 2 cups cooked chickpeas or canned chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • One 14.5-ounce can diced fire-roasted tomatoes, preferably Muir Glen brand, with their juice
  • ¼ cup raisins
  • ¼ cup pine nuts
  • ¼ cup pitted drained kalamata or Niçoise olives packed in oil
  • 1 dried chipotle chile, halved if desired (see headnote)
  • 3 thyme sprigs
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 cup water, or as needed
  • Steamed couscous for serving (optional)


Yield: Serves 6

  1. Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Set aside at room temperature.
  2. Remove the zest from the lemons using a vegetable peeler and juice them. Set the zest and juice aside.
  3. In a flameproof tagine, a large stew pot, or a Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium heat until it shimmers. Add the cinnamon stick and cloves and cook, stirring, until they are fragrant and little bubbles form around the spices, about 1 minute. Add the cumin seeds and cook for 30 seconds. Add the onions, garlic, and ginger and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the paprika and turmeric and cook for 2 minutes.
  4. Add the chicken, peppers, chickpeas, tomatoes, raisins, pine nuts, olives, the reserved lemon zest and juice, the chipotle, thyme, and bay leaves, stir, and cook for 5 minutes. Add the water, cover, and cook until the chicken is cooked through, about 10 minutes. Uncover the pot. The consistency should be between that of a pot roast and a stew; add up to another 1 cup water if the mixture is very dry. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Remove the cinnamon stick, cloves, chipotle, thyme sprigs, and bay leaves.
  5. Serve, with couscous, if desired.

Lauren Volo


Excerpted from Floyd Cardoz: Flavorwalla by Floyd Cardoz (Artisan Books). Copyright ©2016. Photographs by Lauren Volo. Used with permission of the publisher.