Thursday, June 14, 2012

Moroccan Chicken with Lemon and Olives

After my friend Heather mentioned that she made a Moroccan chicken dish, I considered doing the same and stumbled upon this Moroccan Chicken with Lemon and Olives recipe from Simply Recipes with preserved lemons. Of all the different cuisines we eat, Moroccan is the least familiar, so we weren't acquainted with preserved lemons. It intrigued me because...

a) I love lemons. To prove it, I voluntarily entered myself into a lemon eating contest in sixth grade and tied for second place. There were only three contestants, but we were a close second!
b) I love pickled foods. It's one of the few Korean traits I exhibit.

In my enthusiasm, I failed to realize that it takes up to 3 WEEKS to preserve lemons. Normally, K prepares the foods that require time as I like instant gratification. However, I surprised myself by waiting patiently for the lemon rind to soften. It was definitely worth the wait. I was so excited to make it again, that we had it a couple of months later for my birthday.

Recipe is after the jump. The only thing that I did differently is exclude the raisins. We're just not huge fans of dried fruit. This may be why we don't have Moroccan too often... Also, you may find instructions on How to Make Preserved Lemons at Simply Recipes.

Moroccan Chicken with Lemon and Olives
Yield: Serves 4 to 6

2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon turmeric
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 rind from 1 preserved lemon*, rinsed in cold water, pulp discarded, rind cut into thin strips (if you don't have preserved lemon, use whole thin slices of regular lemon)
1 cup green olives, pitted (I put in an entire 6 oz. can.)
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.

2) Pat dry the chicken pieces and put in the bowl, coat well with the spice mixture.

3) Let the chicken stand for one hour in the spices.

4) If you are using a clay tagine (if you have one, you must soak the bottom in water overnight before using), place it on a
heat diffuser on the heating element to prevent the tagine from cracking, and place the olive oil in the tagine and heat it on medium heat.

If you do not have a tagine, you can use a thick-bottomed, large skillet with a cover.
Heat the oil in the skillet on medium high heat.

5) In either case, sprinkle the chicken pieces very lightly with salt (go easy on the salt, the olives and preserved lemons are salty) and place skin side down in the tagine or skillet for 5 minutes, until lightly browned.

6) Lower the heat to medium-low, add the garlic and onions over the chicken.

7) Cover and let cook for 15 minutes.

8) Turn chicken pieces over.

9) Add the lemon slices, olives, raisins, and 1/2 cup water.

10) 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.

11)  Mix in fresh parsley and cilantro right before serving.

12) Adjust seasonings to taste.

13) Serve with couscous, rice, or rice pilaf.

* This recipe shines with preserved lemons. If you don't have access to any, you can use thin slices of regular or Meyer lemon, and you'll likely need to add quite a bit of salt to the dish at the end.

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