We’ve only recently discovered the blog Closet Cooking, but so far everything we’ve tried from Kevin has been really good. This recipe for Moroccan Chicken Tagine with Olives and Preserved Lemons is one of our favorites. It also gives us an opportunity to use our homemade preserved meyer lemons and homemade harissa.
As with most chicken recipes we blog about, we use 2 chicken legs (thighs and drumsticks, equivalent to 4 pieces) from our local farmers’ market, though the recipe calls for a whole chicken (8 pieces). We did not reduce the proportions of the remaining ingredients, and it still came out great.
The recipe begins with a delightful spice rub: 1 tsp paprika (I used smoked paprika), 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper, 1 tsp ground cumin, 1/2 tsp turmeric, 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 1 pinch of saffron, and salt and pepper to taste. We rubbed the chicken pieces thoroughly with all the spice.
Next, we heated 1 tbsp olive oil on medium-high heat and browned the chicken on both sides (we use a dutch oven). In my opinion, it’s very important at this point to brown the chicken as long as you can, in order to ensure that by the end of the recipe, the chicken is cooked all the way through.
After browning thoroughly, per the recipe, we removed the chicken from the dutch oven and set it aside. We added 1 sliced onion and sauteed for several minutes, then added 2 chopped garlic cloves and 1 tsp minced ginger. Next we added 1/2 cup chicken stock and scooped up any brown bits from the bottom of the pan, then added the rest of the ingredients: 1 preserved lemon (pith removed, peel rinsed and sliced or chopped), 1 cup olives, 1 tbsp harissa, and 1 tbsp local honey. We used a mix of Greek olives from the olive bar at Di Bruno Bros.
Then we added the chicken back to the pot, covered, and simmered for 30 minutes. We found that it was very important not to exceed the 30 minute cooking time. The first time we tried making this recipe, the chicken wasn’t quite cooked through after 30 minutes, so we continued cooking another 5 minutes, and most of the onions and lemons got burnt. 30 minutes turned out to be just perfect for the onions to be deliciously caramelized. We recommend that if you’re concerned about the chicken being thoroughly cooked, you make sure to pre-brown the chicken as much as possible, as we mentioned above. Garnish with fresh chopped parsley.
The end result is fantastic. The olives and preserved lemon add a fantastic character to the sauce, and the mix of spices is incredible. We’ve served this with couscous, farro, or with a loaf of crusty bread.