Chicken stew is a warming, filling meal that’s perfect through the fall and winter months. If you’ve been feeling like your standby chicken recipes are getting old, this flavor-packed Slow Cooker Chicken Apricot Stew is the perfect recipe to ignite your palate.
I use chermoula, a North African sauce that I love for its variety of herbs, spices, and preserved lemons, as a marinade to impart deep flavor into the chicken. The chicken is cooked with the marinade, so the sauce infuses the meat as it simmers.
Additionally, the stew contains a hearty serving of chopped apricots, as dried fruit its common in tagines, recipes made in a cooking vessel of the same name, and Moroccan cooking in general.
The apricots lose their structure and melt into the sauce, mellowing out and sweetening the otherwise punchy chermoula. With greens added late in the cooking process, but long enough for them to cook down and meld into the stew, this chicken stew is a well-rounded dish that is at once herbaceous, rich, and healthful.
I enjoy it over couscous or rice, but it works well with other grains, too. The best part of this recipe is that it is super flexible! You can marinate the chicken for anywhere from an hour to a full day, and you can cook the dish on high or low in your slow cooker. This dish allows you to craft a fancy-feeling weeknight or weekend meal with very little hands-on time. It serves four, reheats nicely, and freezes well.
Inspiration for This Recipe
Tagine is a cooking vessel popular in Morocco, and it’s also the name of the dishes cooked in it.
Chicken tagines are popular because the shape of the vessel, which are similar to Dutch ovens but have a cone shaped top for trapping steam, which makes the food cooked in them tender and flavorful.
Because tagines aren’t common to have in homes in the U.S., I’ve revised a popular Moroccan chicken tagine to be made in a slow cooker. The final presentation of tender, highly flavored chicken is similar to a recipe made in the more traditional tagine.
As for the vegetables in the dish, traditional chicken tagines commonly employ zucchini, cauliflower, or potatoes. Because those tend to break down if cooked too long, I’ve instead chosen lacinato kale (also called black kale) because it can be cooked nearly endlessly without losing its structure.
Tips and Tricks for Slow Cooker Chicken Tagine
Follow these steps to ensure your tagine is perfect.
- While it’s tempting to skip the browning step for the chicken and onions, it won’t have as much flavor or color if you do.
- If there are a lot of brown bits left in the pan after sautéing, deglaze with a couple tablespoons of the chicken stock, and add to the slow cooker.
- The chicken will be tender after four hours of cooking but will not suffer if you want to let it go longer; I’ve left it on low for about six hours and had it still be perfectly textured.
- Any onions can be used in both the chermoula and the tagine, but I love sweet onions because of how they balance the tart pungency of the sauce.
Swaps and Substitutions
Don’t have everything on hand? No problem!
- Collard greens can be substituted for the black kale; add them at the same time and cut them similarly. If you don’t have either, add a bag of spinach at the end of the cooking time, and stir until wilted.
- Beef or mushroom stock can be used instead of chicken stock.
- This recipe could be made with lamb or beef instead of chicken. Oxtails would work best, since ideally you’ll want to use a bone in cut.
Store any unused portions in a tightly sealed container for up to four days. Reheat on the stove over medium heat.
To freeze, place the tagine in a tightly sealed container once chilled, and freeze for up to three months. Let it thaw in the fridge before reheating.
More Marvelous Moroccan Recipes
Slow Cooker Apricot Chicken Stew
Marinate the chicken:
In a large bowl, combine the chicken thighs, onion, and chermoula. Toss to evenly coat all of the chicken in the marinade. Refrigerate, covered with plastic wrap, for one hour, or up to overnight.
Sauté chicken and onions and transfer to slow cooker:
Remove the marinated chicken from the fridge. Heat a large, dry skillet over medium high heat.
In two batches, pull the chicken thighs and onions out of the marinade and sauté in the skillet, about five minutes per side. The chicken skin should be golden brown, and the onions should be translucent. Place the sauteed chicken and onions in the slow cooker, being sure to discard any fat left in the pan. Do not throw the extra marinade away once the chicken is in the pan, as you’ll be using that in the slow cooker.
Add remaining ingredients to slow cooker:
Add the chicken stock, kale, apricots, and any leftover chermoula marinade from the mixing bowl into the slow cooker with the chicken and onions.
Finish cooking the chicken:
Cover the slow cooker and place the slow cooker on low. Cook, for four hours, until the chicken is opaque and is fall-apart tender. It should look typical for a slow cooked stew, requiring only the touch of a fork or tongs to fall off the bone.
Serve the chicken over couscous, rice, or your favorite grain.
|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Servings: 4 to 6|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 32g||41%|
|Saturated Fat 10g||48%|
|Total Carbohydrate 20g||7%|
|Dietary Fiber 3g||10%|
|Total Sugars 15g|
|Vitamin C 16mg||78%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|