Chicken Tagine with Olives and Apricots.
I’ve had a few requests for this recipe: Don’t worry if you don’t have a tagine – you can use a large dutch oven instead. No dutch oven (see below) – no luck!
I’ve not yet been to Morocco but I love the taste of Moroccan chicken and cooking it in a tagine (cone shaped clay cooker which cooks whatever is placed inside it very evenly and helps retain juices).
This is an easier recipe in the sense that you don’t need a tagine or the usual preserved lemons (although they are the best) which is a signature of Moroccan cooking. Preparing preserved lemons is easy but you need to leave them sit for at least 3 weeks before using them in the recipe. They “cook” in a mixture of their own juice, coarse salt and boiling water and have a unique sour-salty flavour. But using preserved lemons means being able to eat the skin too. I’ll put the recipe in next Tuesday. If you like this recipe then you can try making the preserved lemons for use next time. This is a bit more work than my usual blog recipes but worth the extra trouble. It will taste exotic.
6 chicken quarters, excess fat trimmed
2 Lemons (preferably thin skinned and juicy)
¼ Cup extra virgin olive oil
3 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. ground coriander
1 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. ground cumin
½ tsp. ground cinnamon
¼ tsp. cayenne pepper
½ tsp. crushed saffron threads
Freshly ground black pepper
½ cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
½ finely chopped fresh parsley
¼ finely chopped fresh mint
½ cup dried apricots, sliced in half crosswise
1 Tbsp. honey
¼ cup blanched almonds
1 cup pitted Moroccan olives (small black olives that look prunelike). You can substitute with pitted small green Greek or Picholine olives if you prefer.
1) Sprinkle the chicken all over with 1 tsp. kosher salt. **If you’re able to buy a Moroccan spice mix use some of that as well. Refrigerate, uncovered, at least 30 minutes or overnight.
2) Meanwhile, thinly slice 1 lemon; spread out the slices and sprinkle generously with kosher salt on both sides. Stack the slices on a plate and let stand at room temperature, at least 20 minutes and up to 3 hours.
3) Pat the chicken dry. Heat a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat and add 3 Tbsp. of olive oil. When the oil shimmers, add half of the chicken, skin-side down; cover and cook until the skin is golden brown, 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer to a platter. Repeat with the remaining chicken. Discard the excess oil.
4) Add the butter, onion, garlic, coriander, paprika, cumin, cinnamon, cayenne, saffron and ½ tsp. black pepper to the pot. Cook over medium heat, stirring, until the onion softens, about 5 minutes; stir in the cilantro, parsley. Push the onion mixture to one side, then add the chicken to the pot, skin side-up. Spoon some of the onion mixture over the chicken and add 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low, *cover and gently simmer for 30 minutes.
5) Meanwhile combine the apricots, 1 cup of water and the *honey in a medium saucepan over medium heat; cover and cook until the apricots are plump, about 15 minutes. Uncover and cook until the liquid is syrupy, about 15 more minutes, set aside. Cook the almonds in the remaining 1 Tbsp. olive oil in a skillet over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until golden brown. Set aside on paper towels.
6) Chop the salted lemons slices into small pieces; add to the pot with the chicken along with the olives and the juice of the remaining lemon. Cover and continue cooking until the chicken is tender, about 20 minutes more. Arrange the chicken on a platter. Top with the olive sauce, apricot mixture and almonds. Sprinkle chopped mint over top. Serve with couscous.
*If using a tagine you would simply add the couscous first and the juices from the chicken would automatically cook it.