Chicken Tagine with Apricots, Butternut Squash and Spinach

This recipe from Milk Street is a perfect-for-fall variation on the classic North African chicken tagine.

Milk Street

Too much information. Seems like we are all awash in TMI. Everywhere we look there are shiny pictures and touch-me screens and jangle-y soundtracks. We carry our devices with us constantly, lest we experience even one moment of an unmediated life.

But sometimes more information can be helpful. Especially if you’re trying to learn something new, or expand a skill you already have.

So we’ve been intrigued by Christopher Kimball’s new Milk Street offerings of “bold, simple recipes that will change the way you cook.”

For us Luddites, there’s an ad-free, simply laid-out magazine that we can prop on our counters and stain as we go. But for those who can handle more sensory input, or want more help, the online recipes include short, simple video clips of each step. So what in print looks like a big production number is revealed in moving images to be something we can handle.

We used both print and video resources to try a perfect-for-fall variation on the classic North African chicken tagine.

As the notes explain, “A fragrant spice paste seasoned the chicken and acted as a base for the stew. Trim, cut and season the chicken first to let it absorb the flavors while preparing the remaining ingredients. Apricots added sweetness that was balanced by briny green olives. An equal amount of carrots can be substituted for the butternut squash. Serve the tagine with couscous, rice or warmed pita bread.”

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There’s even an extra tip: “Don’t drain the diced tomatoes. Their liquid adds sweetness and acidity to the stew.”

Whether you use this print version or look up the video instructions, we think you’ll find this recipe gives just the right amount of information — and remarkable results!

Chicken Tagine with Apricots, Butternut Squash and Spinach

4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided

Kosher salt and ground black pepper

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

2 teaspoons ground cumin

2 teaspoons sweet paprika

1 teaspoon ground coriander

¼ teaspoon ground cayenne

1½ pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed and cut into 1½-inch pieces

1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced lengthwise

4 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed

4 teaspoons grated fresh ginger

2½ cups low-sodium chicken broth

1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes

¾ cup dried apricots, quartered

8 ounces peeled butternut squash, cut into ¾-inch cubes (about 2 cups)

1 cup cracked Greek green olives, pitted and halved

1 cup chopped fresh cilantro, divided

¼ cup pistachios, toasted and chopped

2 teaspoons grated lemon zest, plus 3 tablespoons lemon juice (1 to 2 lemons)

4 ounces baby spinach (about 4 cups)

In a small bowl, stir together 2 tablespoons of the oil, 2½ teaspoons salt, ½ teaspoon black pepper, the cinnamon, cumin, paprika, coriander and cayenne. In a medium bowl, toss the chicken with half the paste, rubbing the meat to coat evenly; set aside.

In a large Dutch oven over medium high, combine the onion, garlic, remaining 2 tablespoons of oil and ¼ teaspoon salt. Cook until the onion is browned and softened, 7 to 9 minutes. Add the ginger and remaining spice paste and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute. Add the broth, tomatoes and apricots and bring to a boil, scraping up any browned bits. Add the chicken, return to a boil, then reduce heat to medium low and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the squash and olives, return to a simmer and cook, partially covered, until the liquid has thickened and the squash is tender, 20 to 25 minutes, stirring occasionally and adjusting the heat to maintain a medium simmer.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, stir together ½ cup of the cilantro, the pistachios and lemon zest. Stir the spinach into the stew and cook until wilted, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in the remaining ½ cup of cilantro and the lemon juice, then taste and season with salt, pepper and more lemon juice, if necessary. Serve topped with the cilantro-pistachio mixture.

Source: Elizabeth Germain,

Lynne Ireland lives to eat and welcomes comments and questions from others who do (or don’t). Contact her at


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