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This chicken tagine with olives and preserve lemons is a staple recipe in every Moroccan home :-)
- 1.5 kg chicken (cut into pieces or just thighs)
Ingredients for Chicken Marinade:
- Saffron water: A large pinch of saffron + 1 cup of warm water. You can store up to 1 month in the fridge.
We will use 1 teaspoon of saffron water.
- The pulp of 1 large preserved lemon (or 2 small ones)
- A handful of fresh cilantro and parsley
- 2 large garlic cloves
- 2 teaspoons ground paprika
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/4 teaspoon of pepper
- 2 tablespoons of olive oil
Ingredients for the tagine:
- 2 onions (grated)
- 2 tablespoon olive oil
- Pinch of salt and ground turmeric
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- Handful of green olives
- The skin of 1 preserve lemon (cut into quarters)
Preparing the ingredients
1- First, let’s prepare saffron water. Soak the saffron threads in some warm water for 10 minutes. This method boosts the saffron flavors and is economical as you can store this flavored water and use it when needed.
2- Quarter the preserved lemon. Separate the pulp from the skin. Finely chop the pulp and reserve the skin for later.
3- Finely chop the parsley and cilantro.
4- Grate the garlic cloves
Marinating the chicken
5- Now we are ready, let’s make the charmoula! In a large bowl combine: the chopped parsley and cilantro, chopped preserved lemon pulp, garlic, ground paprika, ginger, cumin, pepper, saffron water, and olive oil. Mix well.
6- Place the chicken in the charmoula marinade and massage into the flesh. I am using only chicken tights, but you can use any other chicken parts.
7- Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or overnight.
Setting the tagine
8- Peel and grate the onions. Finely chop the leftover onion pieces.
9- Drizzle olive oil in the bottom of the tagine and cover with the onions.
10- Sprinkle a little bit of salt and turmeric over the onions.
11- Add the chicken over the onion bed, and cover with any leftover charmoula.
Cooking the tagine
12- When cooking in a traditional tagine over the stove, use a heat diffuser to avoid burning and cracking the bottom of the tagine. It’s a must!
13- On low-medium heat, place the diffuser first, then the tagine on top of it. Cover and cook for around 15-20 minutes until the onions and chicken release their juices and the liquids start simmering.
14- Then, reduce the heat to low, cover the tagine, and cook until the chicken is tender. This can take 1 hour or more, depending on the chicken parts and quality of your tagine. Very important – make sure that the heat is low.
15- Add the lemon juice and green olives to the sauce.
16- Top the chicken with the preserved lemon skins.
17- Taste your sauce and add salt if necessary – we wait until the end to add salt, because the preserved lemons in the charmoula are already salty!
18- Do not cover the tagine, and continue cooking for another 15 minutes or so, until the liquids have evaporated and the sauce has thickened.
Serve immediately with crusty bread. Bon appetite!
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