Chicken with lemon and olives (Moroccan Chicken Tagine)

on friday, a group of our friends gathered around our table to share in the Passover Seder. it was a wonderful experience–to learn another tradition and share good food and company.   Our menu was extensive–homemade matzo ball soup, gefilte fish, haroset, tizmmes, macaroons, brisket, kugel, and chicken.

i made the Chicken Tagine (also spelled tajine).  Tagine refers both to the cooking pot as well as a stew cooked in it. The tagine consists of two parts: a round pot (usually made of clay) and a conical cover which allows some steam to escape. Tagines are native to Northern Africa, especially Morocco.

the recipe i used is from Ina Garten and includes an overnight marinade, so be sure to give yourself some time for this recipe. Also, i made my own preserved lemons (way cheaper that buying preserved lemons).  if you plan on using the quick preserve i have included below, you will need even more time.

Ingredients
8 chicken thighs, including bone and skin
6 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 large spanish onion, grated
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 preserved lemon
stems from parsley and cilantro, tied with twine
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric (you could use 1/4 teaspoon ground saffron or 4 strands of saffron)
1/4 cup parsley, chopped
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
1 cup pitted green olives, Greek or Moroccan

combine garlic, cumin, ginger, paprika, salt, pepper, oil, 1/2 grated onion, and pulp of 2 preserved lemons (save the peels). add this marinade to the chicken. mix until all the thighs are well coated. place in ziplock bag and refrigerate overnight (24 hours give the best flavor result).

in a dutch oven or casserole, place chicken with marinade, 1 1/2 cups water,  rest of grated onion, parsley and cilantro stems and turmeric.  bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes, partially covered.  

remove cover, stir chicken and simmer for another 15 minutes or until chicken is tender.

remove chicken to a serving dish and cover with foil to keep warm. remove stems and toss. keep sauce on stove and begin to reduce.

slice reserved lemon peels into thin slices. add peels, olives, parsley and cilantro to sauce.  cook for 5 minutes on high or until the sauce is a little bit thick. remove skins from chicken (their just ugly), pour sauce over chicken and serve.

Preserved Lemons
6 lemons
6 tablespoon kosher salt
1 1/2 cups lemon juice
scrub lemons, trim ends and cut length wise into 6 pieces. coat with salt, place in shallow baking dish, cover with juice and bake at 200 degrees for 3 hours. they are ready to be use right away or cover and store in the frig indefinitely.

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