Moroccan Chicken with Lemon and Olives
A month ago or so I bought a tagine, an earthenware cooking and serving pot, with which to experiment. My first foray into cooking with the tagine was with this Moroccan chicken dish which turned out beautifully - succulent, tender, and full of flavor. This recipe is pulled together and adapted from various sources including the New York Times, The New Basics Cookbook, and recipes by Le Souk Ceramique, the maker of my tagine. Preserved lemon is traditionally called for in this dish, although I know of people who just add thin slices of lemon and don't bother with finding or making preserved lemon.
2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon tumeric
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 chicken, 3-4 lbs, cut into 8 pieces (or 3-4 lbs of just chicken thighs and legs, the dark meat is more flavorful)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 onion, chopped
The peel from 1 preserved lemon, rinsed in cold water, pulp discarded, peel cut into thin strips
1 cup green olives, pitted
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup raisins
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 Combine all the spices in a large bowl. Pat dry the chicken pieces and put in the bowl, coat well with the spice mixture. Let the chicken stand for one hour in the spices.
2 In a large, heavy bottomed skillet, heat the olive oil on medium high heat. Add the chicken pieces, sprinkle lightly with salt (go easy on the salt, the olives and lemons are salty), and brown, skin side down for five minutes. (If you are using a clay tagine, you will skip the browning step, heat only to medium heat and use a heat diffuser on the heating element to prevent the tagine from cracking.) Lower the heat to medium-low, add the garlic and onions. Cover and let cook for 15 minutes.
3 Turn chicken pieces over. Add the lemon slices, olives, raisins, and 1/2 cup water. Bring to a simmer on medium heat, then lower the heat to low, cover, and cook for an additional 30 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through and quite tender.
4 Mix in fresh parsley and cilantro right before serving. Adjust seasonings to taste.
Serves 4 to 6. Serve with couscous, rice, or rice pilaf.
Dan's notes: Needs flavor. "Marinate" in the spices for at least an hour. I made it with boneless chicken breasts, maybe the dark meat is better. I used lemon rind, too- grate it so you don't get a big chunk of lemon rind.