Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Moroccan Chicken with Perserved Lemons

I went to Morocco almost five years ago... for ONE day.
I know lame... right?
It was a stop on a cruise ship, more lame.
Then...  I had to take a bus tour with everyone else.
On the bright side (lots of those in Morocco) , I got to see lots of sights, wandered through the casbah, kissed my love in a mosaic grotto, shopped for hand painted dishes, Persian rugs,spices and carved wooden camels- - we packed a bunch into one pitiful day.
I had fun, but all's it did was whey my appetite to go back for as long as possible.
Worst part was, I really didn't get to eat any great food... just silly sweet mint tea and sweets in the dancer and firewalker tent right before everyone rode camels.  In the interest of full disclosure, I did NOT get on that squawking camel, just took everyone else's pictures doing it. Camel's smell and they have very large teeth. 

This dish epitomizes what I think the food I would have eaten was like that; exciting, exotic, spicy and filled with glowing warmness. This dish will appeal to many people as Moroccan food is not known to be overly spicy in the fiery sense, and this dish is no exception.  If you are very sensitive to spicy hot, then I might recommend leaving out the red pepper flakes.  I inadvertently made this for a friend who isn't a big lemon/citrus kind of guy, but he really liked it too.

This original recipe for Moroccan Chicken from Tyler Florence got great ratings, but I wanted to make it more simple.  I totally love roasting your spices and grinding them up yourself... except somehow, that almost never happens at my house.  So, I replaced his spices with the more conventional spices in peoples cupboards and we were happy with the outcome. I made the preserved lemons but it takes about a month to make them, so unless you found them in a shop, you may need another way to go. I also believe this dish would be delicious using lemon juice and lemon zest instead, so I have included that option as well. 

One note about any leftovers, I used up the small amount I had leftover by reheating it slowly in a saucepan with a 1/4 cup of Quinoa until it was tender.  It made a terrific dinner for one. I got the idea because I am planning to do a Chicken, Butternut Squash and Quinoa Stew later this week. Stay tuned...

Serves 4

1 teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon sweet or hot paprika
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for frying
4 cloves garlic,minced
1 teaspoon chopped fresh ginger
1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
2 bay leaves
1 large pinch saffron (if you have it)
8 boneless skinless chicken thighs
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
1 preserved lemon, sliced into small strips OR 2-3 Tbsp lemon juice and 1 Tbsp lemon zest
1/2 cup green olives, chopped
1 cup chicken stock

Couscous, or Quinoa for serving

In a bowl large enough to accommodate the chicken, add the oil, spice mix, garlic, ginger, cilantro, bay leaves and saffron. Mix to a paste. Add chicken, rubbing the marinade over all the pieces. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours or overnight.

Remove the chicken from the marinade and reserve any leftover marinade. In a tagine or large casserole over medium high heat add 2 tablespoons olive oil. Put in chicken pieces and lightly brown on both sides, about 5 minutes. Remove chicken to a plate.

Add onions and cook until just starting to brown, about 3 minutes. Rinse preserved lemon well. Scoop out flesh and discard; cut peel into strips and add to pan. Add any reserved marinade, olives, and chicken stock. Add the pre-browned chicken and any juices.

Bring to a boil and cover tightly and cook over medium low heat for 30 to 35 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through. Remove bay leaf and discard. Taste juices and adjust seasoning. Place chicken on a warm platter. Spoon juices with the preserved lemon, olives, and onions over chicken and serve with Couscous.

Here are some other dishes that I love with Moroccan flavors:
Moroccan Vegetable Stew
Chicken Marbella (OK... technically Spain, but close!!!)
Moroccan Pot Roast (My favorite pot roast recipe of all time!)  


  1. love your variety of recipes Piper. I think I'm going to do the hot martini's Saturday night!

  2. Thanks Julee! I love Hot Tamales, especially in a martini. Thinking of some Irish themed martini's research this weekend myself!