Easy Chicken Tagine with Preserved Lemons and Olives:
At this time of year, I love spicy food, warming stews and rich, deep flavours. A Tagine is a Moroccan dish that usually involves meat or fish and some kind of fruit. It seems particularly appropriate to make a chicken and preserved lemon tagine with olives – It’s the sort of recipe that with the aid of some herbs and spices, some chicken, an onion and a few ingredients you already have in your store cupboard, will produce impressive results that belie the effort involved.
During the summer, my windowsill is usually lined with pots of fresh herbs. But, for some reason, my fresh coriander never lasts long, and nothing looks particularly healthy anyway. So a dish like this that you can make in bulk and freeze is a good idea.
This Chicken Tagine with Preserved Lemons is a dish you shouldn’t try to hurry too much. And, it’s best made with chicken thighs, which have the advantage of being relatively cheap too, to produce really tender moist meat. If you want to make a quicker version, then, by all means, use chicken breasts but try to buy the sort with skin on and some bone still left. By using chicken breast, you can cut the marinade time down to around 30 minutes and you shouldn’t need to cook the tagine for more than half an hour without the lemon and olives and then half an hour to finish off. If you don’t have a tagine, you can, of course, make this dish in a normal casserole, but the principle of the tagine is that it will part casserole and part-steam your dish, making the meat particularly tender. And, preserved lemons are quite unlike the fresh sort – it’s well worth keeping a jar in the cupboard if you like this kind of recipe.
- 8 Chicken Thighs
- 2 Onion
- 1 tin Tomatoes
- 500 ml Chicken Stock
- 15-20 Small Potatoes
- 300 g Pitted black or green Olives
- 2 Preserved Lemon
- 1 tablespoon Olive oil
- 1 large Handful Fresh Parley
- 1/2-1 Red Chilli chopped finely
- 1 pinch Saffron soaked in a little warm water
- 1 Large handful Finely chopped Parsley
- 2-3 cloves Garlic
- 1 inch Fresh Ginger chopped finely
- 1 handful Fresh Coriander chopped finely
- 1 teaspoon Ground coriander seeds
- 1 teaspoon Ground cumin seeds
- 45 ml Olive oil
- 1 Preserved Lemon Any seeds removed and chopped finely
- 1 teaspoon Tumeric
- Salt and Pepper To taste
Make up the chermoula by mixing all the dry ingredients, then add the oil, then the remaining ingredients. Stir well together to mix into a paste.
Place the chicken portions in a Tupperware or similar container and add all the chermoula, smearing it over the meat. Seal and shake to cover everything well. Marinade for at least two hours (at room temperature) or overnight in the fridge. If you are using chicken breasts, you can cut the marinade time down to half an hour (minimum!)
Warm the oil in a tagine or ovenproof casserole and fry the onion until soft
Add the tomato, potato and chicken together with all the chermoula. Top up with chicken stock and bring to a gentle boil. Simmer gently for an hour, (half an hour for chicken breast portions) checking to see the mixture isn't too dry and topping up with water or chicken stock as necessary
Remove the flesh from the preserved lemon and cut the skin into thin strips.
Add the lemon skin and olives to the tagine. Check and adjust the seasoning and cook for a further 30 minutes or so, topping up with chicken stock if necessary and stirring very occasionally but otherwise not disturbing the mixture
Turn off the heat and allow to rest for 10-15 minutes before serving with a garnish of fresh parsley and Moroccan flatbreads or couscous
My chicken tagine recipe is perhaps rather spicier than some versions but otherwise quite a classic dish. I use a chermoula to marinade the meat – a mixture of herbs and spices with a little olive oil and preserved lemon.
The same chermoula mix works well with baked fish and can also be used as a rather fabulous barbeque marinade. You DO need to be patient and allow the mixture to marinate for at least half an hour, or if possible a few hours. Having said that, this dish can be made in advance and it freezes very well.
If you want to use this for the 5-2 diet, then use half the amount of olive oil in the chermoula and replace the potatoes with carrots and celery. It’s not quite as hearty, but the calorie count will then be around 350 per portion, assuming you don’t eat the chicken skin;). For another Moroccan style diet recipe why not try my low-calorie spicy chickpea and spinach soup