I preserved lemons to make this tagine recipe from Mourad’s book, “New Morocco.” Mourad describes this as,”an ultra classic Moroccan chicken dish- and a great starter recipe for test driving your new tagine.” I thought it was a great way to introduce my guests to Moroccan cuisine. The familiarity of the ingredients didn’t intimidate those who might be less interested if I had chosen the braised oxtail recipe. The chicken was tender, and fell off the bone. The lemons and green olives provided unexpected pops of flavor. The real star of the meal was my pottery tagine. It seared, sauted, simmered, and served the meal. My favorite part is when the lid is lifted, and a whoosh of heat and steam give anyone standing too close an instant facial.
6 Chicken legs with thighs, trimmed of excess fat
1-3 Tablespoons duck or chicken fat
5 cups thinly sliced yellow onions
2 tablespoons ground coriander
2 teaspoons ground white pepper
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon saffron threads
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 1/2 cups chicken stock
6 quarter preserved lemon rind
1/2 cup cracked green olives, pitted
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon chopped flat leaf parsley
2 teaspoons chopped cilantro
Generously salt chicken thighs, and let sit at room temperature 1 hour.
Heat 1 tablespoon of fat in tagine over medium heat. Add 3 chicken thighs and cook, turning once, for 3-4 minutes on each side, until they are well browned. Remove them from pan and cook remaining 3.
Discard all but 2 T of fat. If fat looks burnt, discard all of it and heat the remaining 2 tablespoons in the tagine. Add onions and saute over medium until they are a rich golden brown. (20 minutes) Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Add the spices to the onions and stir to toast spices stirring constantly for 1 1/2 minutes. Return thighs to tagine, add stock, and bring to a boil.
Cover tagine, transfer to oven, and cook for 40 minutes, or until the chicken is tender and is pulling away from the bone. Remove thighs from tagine, and return tagine to burner on stove. Simmer for about 3 minutes to reduce sauce. Lift some on spoon, it should coat the spoon. Add the lemons and olives, then whisk in the butter and herbs. You could add the chicken back to the tagine and spoon the sauce over, or transfer to a platter and serve over couscous. You can watch him on Martha Stewart preparing couscous. (notice the Clay Coyote steamer on the counter)