When it’s cold outside, there’s nothing better than comfort food. Since comfort food can come from all over the world, I decided to make one with a Moroccan flair. My friends toured Morocco last year and they brought back this dish from a cooking class they attended. You don’t need a tagine to cook this dish, but it adds a nice touch, especially with presentation. Tagines have a conical top designed to keep returning moisture to the dish during a slow simmer. I found an inexpensive ceramic glaxed tagine and it was perfect for this dish made with chicken, preserved lemon, olives and a wonderful combination of spices.
Chicken Tagine with preserved lemon and olives
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 80 minutes
1 1/2 lb Chicken (boneless breasts and thighs)
1 Preserved Lemon*
1 cup Fresh Parsley, finely chopped
1 cup Fresh Cilantro (coriander), finely chopped
2 cloves Garlic, finely minced
1 tsp Black Pepper
2 tsp Ginger Powder
2 tbl Tumeric
1/2 tsp Saffron
1/3 cup Olive Oil
2 tbl Butter
1 Red Onion, finely chopped
1 1/2 cup Green Olives (pitted)
1 cup Chicken Stock
1/4 cup Hot Water
Fresh Cilantro for garnish
Rinse chicken and pat dry. Cut into medium sized pieces. Place chicken in a bowl and set aside. Grind saffron threads between your thumb and finger and sprinkle into 1/4 cup of hot water. Set aside.
Cut preserved lemon in half and separate flesh from peel. Chop peel into small pieces and set aside. Chop flesh, removing seeds, and combine it with parsley, onions, cilantro and garlic on a cutting board. Chop ingredients together and add to chicken with pepper, ginger, tumeric, and 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Combine well. Cover and let chicken marinate in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
Heat the bottom half of the tagine to a medium high heat. Add remaining olive oil and butter and sear chicken on all sides, about 15 minutes. Slowly add saffron water chicken stock, pouring it to the sides, not directly over chicken. Cover, reduce heat and simmer for 1 hour until chicken is nicely browned and sauce is thick. If dish is dry, add more water. Remove cover and add lemon peel and olives. Cover and cook for an additional 5 minutes.
Meanwhile prepare four servings of couscous according to package directions. To serve, place couscous on a plate and top with chicken. Garnish with cilantro. Enjoy this dish with salad and crunch bread.
*Jarred preserved lemon is available online and in specialty stores like Sur La Table and Middle Eastern groceries stores like Middle Eastern Bakery & Grocery on Foster Avenue in Chicago. The peel has a very strong flavor and you might want to taste it before adding it to your dish.
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