This is one of those recipes that upon eating it, I wanted to jump right in and make it again for dinner the next night and the next night after that. It’s really just a simple, braised chicken dish, but the combination of spices and flavors makes it really, really special: ginger, saffron, cumin, preserved lemon, green olive. If you ask me, preserved lemons are one of those magical ingredients that add a complex depth when you want a bit of saltiness and tang and having some on hand is a great ace in the hole anytime you’re faced with a drab dish that needs a little “something extra”. Having tried my hand at preserving lemons with Simran, I can report back that they are really easy to make. If you can sprinkle salt and squeeze a lemon, you too can be an artisan preserved lemon maker — although you will also need a bit of patience because they take 3-4 weeks to pickle.
Another thing that was cool about this recipe was the technique of using grated onion in the braising liquid, a totally new one for me. Grating the onions allows them to melt beautifully into the sauce, giving the sauce some body without chunkiness. Not only is this lovely on the palette, it’s a bonus for kids who don’t “things” floating around in their sauce :). My little guy loved, loved, loved this dish and took particular delight in stealing all the green olives, so I will be sure to add more next time!
Chicken with Preserved Lemon and Olives
adapted from The Food of Morocco by Paula Wolfert
- 1 -2 pounds of bone-in chicken pieces
- 1 large onion, grated
- 1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 2 Tablespoons saffron water (pinch of saffron soaked in 2 tablespoons of hot water for 5-10 minutes)
- 1 cup pitted green olives
- 1/2 preserved lemon, cut into wedges
- 1/4 cup chopped cilantro or flat leaf parsley (or a combination of both)
- 2 minced garlic cloves
- 1 teaspoon minced ginger
- 1 teaspoon sweet or hot paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- Make the spice mixture and rub under and over the skin of the chicken. Marinate overnight in a covered container.
- Add chicken to a large pot or skillet and top with grated onion, turmeric, saffron water, and 1/2 cup water.
- Cover and simmer on medium heat for 30 minutes, turning chicken occasionally in the sauce.
- Add water if needed, and continue to cook uncovered for an additional 20 minutes over medium heat until the chicken is tender and beginning to fall off the bone.
- Remove chicken to a broiler safe baking dish and set aside. Then add the preserved lemon and olives to the sauce. Taste and correct the seasoning as needed and keep sauce warm on the stove.
- Heat the broiler and broil chicken skin side up until browned (5-10 minutes).
- Arrange chicken on a platter and pour sauce over. Garnish with parsley/cilantro.
You might also like: Bar Jules Lamb with Preserved Lemons