Most braised meat and stew recipes on Serious Eats start with a meat-searing step, but not this one—a good reminder that there's more than one way to build incredible depth of flavor in a dish. While this isn't a traditional tagine, it uses the delicate cooking method common to many tagine recipes as well as familiar North African flavors, including warm spices, dried fruits, and nuts.
The word tagine can refer to both the cooking vessel—typically a shallow earthenware dish with a conical lid—and the food that's prepared in it. Because the earthenware is at risk of cracking under high heat (or from rapid temperature changes), it's necessary to use a more gentle flame, which coaxes out the juices from the aromatic vegetables like onion and garlic as well as the chicken, creating a rich fat-slicked broth that bathes the meat, chickpeas, figs, and pistachios. Warm spices like ground ginger, turmeric, and, optionally, floral saffron, add even more depth.
If you don't have an actual tagine, don't worry. This recipe will also work in a Dutch oven. Simply keep the lid on (except when you occasionally stir to prevent anything from sticking and burning), to trap all that moisture necessary to form the braising liquid.
You can also use this recipe as inspiration for whatever you have in your pantry. No dried figs? Dried prunes, apricots, or raisins could work too. No pistachios? Try blanched whole almonds.