Tagine of Chicken with Preserved Lemon and Olives

Chicken Tagine with Preserved Lemon and Olives

Karin already talked about how awesome Claudia Roden’s cookbook Arabesque is here, so I won’t rehash all the nice things she had to say about it again. Suffice to say we are still enjoying it and cooking from it often.

A coworker of mine had a surplus of lemons, so when she brought a handful of them to work,  I thought I’d try my hand at a quick preserved lemon recipe in this cookbook. That turned out fairly well (recipe after the jump), but then I had a jar full of preserved lemons to use in the couple of weeks they were going to last for. I tried a handful of recipes in Roden’s book that called for them, going through about half the jar, and this was my favorite of the bunch. The sweetness of the preserved lemons balances out the saltiness of the green olives well and the whole thing comes together quickly enough to make it on a weeknight.

One note: The preserved lemons need to sit for up to four days before using them, so make sure you plan accordingly!

Lemons Boiled in Brine and Preserved in Oil

  • 4 lemons, unwaxed (or thoroughly scrubbed)
  • 4 Tbsp salt

1. With a sharp knife, make 8 superficial cuts (i.e., not through the pith) into the skin from one end of the lemon to the other.

2. Add the salt to enough water to cover the lemons and bring to a boil in a large pan or wide pot. Put a smaller lid on top of the lemons to weigh them down since they float, and boil the lemons for about 25 minutes or until the peel is very soft. Drain.

3. When the lemons are cool enough to handle, scoop out the flesh and pith, pack the skins in a glass jar and cover with oil (sunflower or light vegetable oil). Let them rest in a cool place or the refrigerator for four days before using.

[Four or more days later…]

Tagine of Chicken with Preserved Lemon and Olives (Adapted from Arabeqsue)

Serves 4
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour, 10 minutes

  • 3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 onions, finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1/2 tsp crushed saffron threads
  • 1/4 to 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 2 lbs chicken thighs (or 1 whole chicken cut into pieces)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 2 Tbsp cilantro, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp Italian parsley, chopped
  • Peel of 1 large preserved lemon, diced or cut into small strips
  • 12-16 green olives, pitted

1. In a heavy-bottomed skillet or saucepan that can hold all the chicken pieces in one layer, heat the oil over medium heat and when hot, add the onions. Lower the heat to medium-low and saute, stirring often, until they soften (roughly 7-10 minutes). Add the garlic and ginger and saute until fragrant.

2. Add the chicken pieces, seasoned with salt and pepper, and pour in about 1 1/4 cups of water. Stir to combine, then add the saffron threads. Simmer, covered, turning the pieces over a few times and adding more water if it becomes too dry. Cook for 40 minutes or so (if using a whole chicken, remove the breasts after 15 minutes).

3. Stir the lemon juice, cilantro, parsley, olives and preserved lemon into the chicken. Simmer uncovered for 5-10 minutes, until the sauce is thick. If there is too much liquid, remove the chicken pieces, raise the heat and reduce the sauce further. Add the chicken back to the pan and heat through.

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