When we visited Morocco we took a cooking class at a little spot in the Atlas Mountains. The thing that struck me the most about Moroccan cooking was just how fresh everything tasted. We learned to make a chicken tagine, a health salad, and then later ate our dish overlooking the vast reservoir.
While the resort in the mountains was lovely, my favorite place in Morocco was Dar Najmat in Mirleft, a secluded riad that was truly a culinary experience. Every bite of tagine takes me back to that life-changing trip.
Let’s kick off the weekend with an easy Friday night dish that is designed to transport you to Morocco.
Moroccan Chicken with Olives & Preserved Lemons from Fine Cooking
1 medium onion, finely diced
Fresh cilantro, leaves and stems finely chopped; more chopped leaves for garnish
Fresh flat-leaf parsley, leaves and stems finely chopped
1 tsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. turmeric
1/4 tsp. ground cumin
1/4 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/8 to 1/4 tsp. cayenne
Small pinch saffron, crushed
1/4 cup olive oil
3-lb. chicken, cut into 8 pieces
1 preserved lemon, most of the pulp removed; the rind cut into thin strips
1 cup red-brown unpitted olives
- Mix the onion, herbs, and spices; this mixture is called a charmoula.
- In the Clay Coyote Flameware Tagine Bottom*, heat the oil on medium-high heat. Cook the chicken in batches until browned on all sides, about 3 min. per side, transferring the pieces to the bowl with the charmoula as they’re done.
- Pour off and discard most of the oil in the pan.
- Toss the chicken to coat it with the charmoula.
- Pour 1/4 cup water into the pan over medium heat and deglaze the pan.
- Remove the pan from the heat, add the chicken so it’s in a single layer.
- Add charmoula to the pan.
- Add 3/4 cup water and bring to a simmer over medium heat.
- Reduce the heat to medium low and add the preserved lemon strips and olives to the sauce.
- Cover and simmer, turning the chicken occasionally, until the chicken is cooked through and very tender and the onion and herbs have melted into the sauce, 10 to 15 min.
- If it’s not yet saucy but the liquid is evaporating, add more water and continue cooking for another 10 to 15 min. Transfer the chicken to a platter.
- Simmer the sauce uncovered about 3 min.
- Spoon the sauce over the chicken and sprinkle with chopped cilantro leaves.