Moroccan Chicken Tagine

Make Sunday dinner special with this flavorful family style meal.
Moroccan Chicken Tagine
2 tablespoons butter
3 pounds chicken thighs and or drumsticks, skin removed*
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
Salt to taste
1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
4-6 cloves garlic, minced (about 1 tablespoon)
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
Pinch saffron thread (consider optional)
Dash cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon cardamom, optional
1/3 cup raisins (golden raisins preferred, regular will do)
1/3 cup rough chopped green olives
2 cups chicken broth
1/3 cup coarsely chopped preserved lemons*
3 cups cooked Couscous* or rice
Parsley, cilantro, additional green olives and lemon rind, optional garnish

Melt 1-tablespoon butter in tagine (or Dutch oven) over medium heat. Season the chicken with salt and pepper; add to melted butter, cook chicken until lightly browned on both sides (about 4 minutes per side).

While chicken is browning, thinly slice onion; melt remaining 1-tablespoon butter in a fry pan over medium heat, add onions and cook until lightly caramelized; stir in garlic and remove from heat. Add onions, cumin, turmeric, saffron, cinnamon, cardamom, raisins, green olives, chicken broth and preserved lemons to chicken. Cover, bring to a boil, reduce heat, simmer 15 minutes, stir chicken and cook 10-20 minutes longer or until fall-apart tender.

To serve, place chicken on bed of couscous or rice; spoon sauce over chicken; garnish with parsley, additional green olives and a thinly sliced preserved lemon rind.

Tagine refers to both the slow cooked ingredients – and the pot, traditionally made from clay with a cone lid, in which the food is cooked. Tagines are from Northern Africa, especially Morocco, and include dozens of stew variations. This recipe will serve approximately 6

* Recipe suggests chicken thighs and drumsticks with bone-in. Recipe may be made with cut up whole chicken or boneless skinless chicken breast (about 1 1/2 pounds). Removing the skin will reduce the fat content of the dish.

* Preserved lemons are available in cooking stores, Mediterranean markets and on line. Often they are hard to find and it is easier to make your own (see recipe below). If not available locally or time is an issue try these substitutes: use thinly sliced fresh lemon (cooking will tenderize lemon peel). Another quick substitute – Combine 1 cup water, 2-tablespoons salt, and 2 lemons washed and quartered. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 30 minutes or until lemon peel is tender.

Preserved Lemon Recipe: 4-6 Lemons; 1/2-cup kosher salt; fresh lemon juice. Scrub lemons, remove stem ends, pat dry and cut into quarters (or eights depending on size of lemon). Rub quarters generously with salt and pack into sterilized quart jar. Add additional salt and press lemons down to create juice. Sprinkle top with additional salt and completely cover with fresh lemon juice. Cover and store on counter 7-10 days, turning jars daily to distribute juice. Refrigerate lemons for several weeks.

*Prepare couscous using chicken broth and 1-tablespoon butter; follow package directions.

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