Thursday, April 18, 2013

Preserved lemons and olives chicken Tajine (Moroccan chicken stew)

Soooo.... the rationale behind my cooking this dish, you'll ask?

Very simple: two summers ago, I made salted preserved lemons (I don't have a specific recipe on this blog, but you can find plenty online :) it's fairly simple: lemons, salt, water and a bay leaf ) just for the fun of it. Now, two years later, the lemons were crowding my fridge and I had no idea what to do with them...

The second thing is that as a single person, it is rather expensive to cook nice food, just for me. So I'm always on the lookout for recipes that will feed me for a long time (i.e. that keep well, freeze well, etc...), that are (relatively) healthy and don't cost me an arm!

As I was browsing through the supermarket the other day, there was a super sale on chicken thighs. I bought a pack of 10 (TEN!), and had the idea of a tajine to use up both that bulk of poultry and my lemons :) The moment I got back home, I googled chicken tajine recipes, and found this one, which I then tweaked and adapted into: TA-DA!

INGREDIENTS (for 5 people, or 1 with TONS of leftovers!):
- 4 tbsp olive oil
- 10 chicken thighs (skin on, bone in)
- 2 onions, diced
- 4 cloves of garlic, grated
- 1/2 inch fresh ginger, grated
- 2 preserved lemons, quartered
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 2 tsp turmeric
- 1 bunch of cilantro, chopped
- water (about 8 cups)
- 2 tsp ras el hanout (morrocan spice blend, click here for the recipe)
- 1 jar of pitted green olives, drained
- salt, pepper

RECIPE (about 2 hours from start to finish):
- heat the olive oil over high heat, put the chicken skin side down first and turn until golden on all sides. Reserve the chicken on a plate until later. Work in batches, so as not to cool the pan with too many pieces of chicken at a time.

- remove most of the rendered fat, but keep about 2 tbsp. Add the onions and cook until soft (about 2 minutes)

- add the garlic, ginger, lemons, cilantro, spices, salt and pepper and a cup of the water. Mix well.

- put the chicken back in the pan, and add water so that it comes right below the top of the chicken pieces.

- cover and simmer for 40 minutes on very low heat (lowest setting possible before it turns off!)

- after 40 minutes, add the olives, cover again and let simmer for 20 minutes

- after 20 minutes, remove the lid, put the chicken pieces on a plate and reduce the sauce on medium-high heat until it thickens. Stir often so it does not stick to the bottom of the pan.

- after 15-20 minutes, put the chicken pieces back into the pot and reheat gently over low heat (about 10 minutes)

- serve piping hot over couscous

- Enjoy!

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