Here is a relatively simple, wonderfully robust and flavorful dish that Mrs. MM likes to cook every so often. Served with couscous and some vegetables, it is a favorite meal in our household. Mrs. MM has crafted her recipe from several recipes for the dish in Moroccan cookbooks, food websites, magazines etc. However, you do need preserved lemons to really make this dish stand out. Preserved lemons are easy to do and last for months in your fridge, so I suggest you make your own, recipe here or here. Marinate chicken pieces in a glass bowl or heavy duty ziplock bag together with a chopped onion or two, wansoy or cilantro, chopped garlic, salt, pepper, ground turmeric, saffron, and a touch of butter. Leave this in the fridge for at least 3-4 hours, or overnight.
The chicken pieces will take on a rich color like in the photo above.
Next heat up a tagine bottom (use a heavy casserole if you don’t have a tagine), drizzle some olive oil and when hot, add the marinated chicken pieces and scrape in all of the remaining marinade into the tagine. Add a couple of tablespoons of green olives either whole or sliced, several quarters of preserved lemons and add several tablespoons of water, lower the heat and cover the tagine to simmer for an hour or more. Check every 15 minutes or so and add a little more water if it looks like it’s drying out. Turn the pieces of chicken over after an hour and let them cook another half hour or so until soft, tender and ready to fall off the bone…
If you keep the heat low and manage a gentle simmer, the dish shouldn’t dry up.
A tagine has a conical cover, which collects the steam and it flows back into the dish… a tightly covered Le Creuset or similar enameled pot should do a reasonably good job as well. Taste and season with salt and pepper to taste. The lemons and olives are salty, so you may not need to add much salt.
The results? Just look at it. Tender chicken pieces bursting with flavor and a nice stewy sauce perfect for mixing with couscous or even steamed rice. The lemons will have mellowed some more, and infused the dish with that special flavor that makes it all the more special. While it may take 90-100 minutes to actually cook the dish, it needs minimal supervision and you can do other tasks at the same time. Definitely a favorite in the MM household!