Moroccan Lemon Chicken with Olives

Slow simmered, tender chicken with preserved lemon, olives, and spices.

July 2019 • Jules Verne




Serves 6
Prep Time: 15 mins
Cook Time: 1hr 15mins

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 1/2 lbs bone-in chicken pieces
  • 1/2 tsp saffron threads
  • 1 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • Pinch cayenne pepper
  • Pinch cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 pints chicken stock
  • 2 preserved lemons (or sub fresh lemons), peel only, pulp discarded
  • 1 cup pitted green olives
  • 1/2 cup fresh chopped cilantro for garnish
  • Salt and pepper

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. For the chicken pieces, choose your favourite cut of meat. You can use a whole chicken cut into pieces, or buy specific pieces that you like. You may opt for whole leg/thigh pieces because the dark meat is more flavourful.  

  2. Remove skin from chicken pieces (freeze the skin for stock or use it to make schmaltz!), then rinse and dry the pieces. You may wish to salt the chicken lightly; do not salt if you are cooking the dish with preserved lemon and/or with kosher chicken meat (both have a lot of salt already, so you won’t need more). Grind the saffron threads into powder using a spice mortar and pestle. Mix saffron powder, cumin, paprika, turmeric, ginger, cayenne pepper and cinnamon together in a small bowl. Rub the spice mixture evenly onto the chicken pieces.

  3. Heat olive oil in deep skillet or sauté pan over medium high heat. Sauté the onion in the oil till it turns translucent. Add the garlic and continue to sauté till lightly browned. Arrange the chicken pieces snugly inside the skillet. Pour chicken stock over the pieces; they should be almost covered with stock. You probably won’t need the entire quart depending on the size of your pan.

  4. Remove pulp from the 2 lemons. With preserved lemon this is easy, the pulp will be softened and you can just scoop it out. For fresh lemon, I find it’s easier to slice the peel off of the lemon (if a little pulp clings to the peel it’s no big deal).

  5. Cut the peel into thin slices and arrange it evenly spaced in the pan.

  6. Bring stock to a boil, then reduce heat to a low simmer and cover the skillet. Let the chicken simmer for 60-75 minutes, periodically ladling the seasoned stock over the chicken pieces, until the meat is fork-tender. ( 75 minutes for the very tender meat).

  7. Remove chicken pieces from the broth using tongs or a slotted spoon; arrange the pieces on a serving dish or bowl.

  8. Add olives to the sauce in the skillet. Bring sauce in the skillet to a boil and let it reduce and thicken for a few minutes. Remove skillet from heat and taste the sauce. Season with more salt and pepper, if desired. If you've subbed fresh lemons for preserved, add 1-2 tbsp fresh squeezed lemon juice to the sauce, or to taste.