Chicken with Preserved Lemons and Olives
Based on the flavors of a Moroccan tagine, this healthy chicken “stew” has layers of flavor. It is a perfect dish for Shabbat and Passover as it cooks on its own for some time and is easily multiplied for a crowd. Serve on a big platter with a mound of rice or couscous in the middle, although it was also delicious when served on its own at the White House 2014 Seder.
- 1 medium onion, diced (about 1 cup) or more if you like
- 4-5 garlic cloves, chopped
- ¼ cup olive oil
- ½ teaspoon turmeric
- ½ teaspoon ground ginger
- ½ teaspoon paprika
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 8-10 boneless, skinless chicken thighs or breast pieces*
- 1-2 cups chicken stock 1 cup pitted green Mediterranean-style olives
- 1 preserved lemon, quartered
- ½ cup finely chopped fresh cilantro leaves
- Salt to taste
- In a heavy-bottomed pot, sauté the onion and garlic in oil over medium heat for about 5 minutes until softened and turning translucent. (See note below if using chicken breasts.) Stir often so there is no browning. Add the turmeric, ginger and paprika, stirring briefly just to release the aromas. Add the pepper and chicken. Stir to coat the pieces with spices. Cook, uncovered, a few minutes on each side of chicken pieces.
- Add chicken stock and olives and stir, making sure to get up all the bits stuck on the bottom of the pot. Add a little more chicken stock if needed to just barely cover the pieces. Lower heat to medium low, cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 40 minutes so the flavors really blend, the chicken gets soft and the onions nearly melt into the sauce.
- Rinse the preserved lemon quarters very well under cold water. Remove most of the pulp and cut the rinds into thin strips. Add to the chicken along with most of the cilantro, reserving some for garnish. Taste to see if you need to add salt. You probably won’t since the olives and lemons are salty. Cook, uncovered, for 15 to 20 minutes more, stirring occasionally as the sauce thickens naturally. Serve the chicken on a large platter with all the sauce poured over it and a sprinkling of chopped cilantro and some rice or couscous.
- *Note: You can use chicken breasts with or without the thighs in this dish. For the White House 2014 Seder, I made it with both at the request of the First Lady, Michelle Obama. To use breasts, cut each half into 2 equal pieces. Lightly brown the pieces quickly in the pot with the olive oil to seal the juices. Then remove the breast pieces and set aside. Scrape up all the bits in the pot and add to the breasts. To continue the recipe, sauté the onions and garlic in the pot, adding a little more olive oil if needed. Add the breasts to the pot after the thighs have had a chance to be in the spices and brown for a few minutes.