Pressure Cooker Chicken & Prune Tagine
At the end of winter, food seems to need extra flavor. I’ve got lots of tricks for adding that flavor: plenty of aromatics, spoonfuls of spices, intense dried fruit, salty olives, or rich olive oil. In this chicken tagine, a hearty end-of-winter stew, I use them all. The best part is that the ingredients are all healthful, even while the standalone dish they create is hearty and satisfying. With sweet potatoes and chickpeas right in the pot, the tagine doesn’t need rice or couscous on the side.
We’re at a moment where there’s no conflict between hearty and healthful. I find that when I cook a hearty stew with a pressure cooker – which everyone does now, right? – you also want to be careful to bulk up on flavors, otherwise every dish can end up tasting the same. This is also true with slow cooker recipes. I’ve learned that if I want my Italian chicken stew to set itself apart from my Moroccan chicken stew, I better ramp up the on-theme herbs and spices and stuff. So even though authentic tagines will usually have either olives or prunes or chickpeas, here we get them all, plus big spoonfuls of ground ginger, cumin, cinnamon, turmeric, and paprika.
But here’s the coolest part about this pressure cooker chicken tagine recipe: it uses frozen chicken. Since we now live far from a good butcher, I buy a couple extra chicken legs and thighs when I shop and put them in the freezer for future weeks. Normally, that means you have to remember to defrost the chicken the day or two before you want it–kind of a pain. Pressure cooker math put an end to that! Here are the details of how this works: cooking beans in the pressure cooker is amazing, but it takes about 25 minutes. Cooking chicken in the pressure cooker, by contrast, takes under 10 minutes. So you can’t make chicken and beans together. If you put the chicken in frozen, on the other hand, it cooks up safely in the same amount of time as the beans. A whole new world of dishes opens up, including this one.
That’s the math part. To make this succeed as a stew, you should get good olives and nice, soft prunes. Don’t use spices that have been sitting around forever. Pick out a good extra virgin olive oil, preferably one that’s full-bodied and fruity. You’re not sautéing or dressing with it, but using it to add body to the dish, and to tie all the healthy, hearty, on-trend flavors together.
- 8 pitted prunes, halved
- 20 black olives (I leave the pits in for extra flavor and less work; be careful when you eat!)
- 1 cup chickpeas, soaked for at least 8 hours, then drained
- 1 small sweet potato, cut into 1-inch chunks (I leave the skin on)
- 1 onion, sliced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 teaspoons cumin
- 1 teaspoon turmeric
- 1½ teaspoons ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- ⅓ cup olive oil
- 1⅔ cups water or homemade stock
- 5 frozen bone-in chicken legs
- In the pot of an electric pressure cooker (like an InstantPot), combine the prunes, olives, chickpeas, sweet potato, onion, garlic, cumin, turmeric, ginger, cinnamon, salt, olive oil, and water.
- Place the chicken legs on top.
- Cover and lock the pressure cooker lid. Use the manual setting and set the timer for 25 minutes. When the cooker beeps, turn it off and let the pressure come down naturally.
- This doesn't really need garnish or sides, but couscous, cilantro, or toasted almonds never hurt!
This dish is healthful comfort food, which is particularly of the moment and a good fit for Pompeian’s #TrendingintheKitchen campaign. Thank you to Pompeian for sponsoring this post , and four more to come this year! All thoughts, opinions, obsessions with olive oil, are my own.