4 pounds plum tomatoes—peeled, seeded and coarsely chopped
3/4 cup vegetable oil
6 cinnamon sticks
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2/3 cup plus 3 tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup water
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
One large pinch of saffron threads, crumbled
One 3 1/2-pound chicken, quartered
1 small bunch of flat-leaf parsley
1 small bunch of cilantro
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
In a heavy medium saucepan, combine the tomatoes with 1/4 cup of the oil, 2 cinnamon sticks, the ground cinnamon and a generous pinch of salt. Bring to a simmer and cook over moderate heat for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add 2/3 cup of the sugar and simmer over low heat, stirring frequently, until the tomato sauce is glossy and thick, about 30 minutes longer.
Meanwhile, in a large enameled cast-iron casserole, mix the water with the remaining 1/2 cup of oil, 4 cinnamon sticks and 3 tablespoons of sugar. Add the ginger, salt, white and black pepper and saffron. Add the chicken, turn to coat and bring to a boil. Cook over moderately low heat for 25 minutes, turning occasionally. Tie the parsley and cilantro into a bundle and add it to the casserole. Cover and simmer until the chicken is cooked through, about 15 minutes longer.
In a small skillet, toast the sesame seeds over moderate heat, stirring, until lightly browned, about 3 minutes.
Using tongs, transfer the chicken to a platter and spoon the tomato sauce on top. Garnish with the sesame seeds and serve hot or at room temperature.
The sauce and chicken can be prepared through Step 2 and refrigerated separately for up to 2 days. Rewarm before garnishing and serving.
An acidic and slightly sweet rosé will echo similar flavors in this tagine.