A classic Moroccan Tagine of Chicken with Olives and Preserved Lemon – the sharpness of the lemons and the saltiness on the olives pair perfectly with the tender slow cooked chicken thighs – serve with rice or couscous for a deliciously easy peasy dinner.
I was first introduced to this tagine whilst reviewing Sabrina Ghayour’s wonderful recipe book Persiana. It was one of the recipes I most wanted to cook for my review. It’s a fairly traditional tagine, which Sabrina has simplified for her book. I really liked the flavours, but felt it could do with a few tweaks – a little less lemon (I love lemons but Sabrina’s version was too lemony even for me!), shorter cooking time (her version took over 2 hours – I wanted to create a version that could be done in under half that time) and slightly less liquid (Sabrina’s sauce was quite watery – I wanted to see if I could do something a bit more concentrated).
A little fiddling about in the kitchen later and I think I’ve got my version down! It’s super simple, super tasty and fairly quick to boot. I’ve cut down on the lemons quite drastically – from 6 to 1 – and slashed the overall time from 2h 20 to 1 hour (and only 15 minutes of that is prep time – yey!). I’ve used boneless chicken thighs to make things even easier (but feel free to use bone in ones if you prefer) and generally simplified the recipe to make it as easy peasy as possible.
I like to serve this with basmati rice, but you could also serve it with couscous, flatbreads or even mashed potatoes if you wanted to give it a British twist (just call it fusion food!).
If you want a side dish to accompany meal, I suggest a simple salad would be perfect – either a green side salad – one of those supermarket bag salads would be perfect or you could do a mix of tomatoes, cucumber, red onions and pomegranate seeds dressed simply with lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper, which looks very pretty and tastes gorgeous – especially if you make the salad ahead of time and allow the flavours to develop.
Wine wise, this tagine is perfect with a crisp citrussy Sauvignon Blanc to match the sharp lemon flavours in the tagine. Or, if you fancy something a little different, a Southern French rosé works quite well too.
Chicken Tagine with Olives and Preserved Lemon
- Pinch of saffron
- 200 ml boiling water
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 medium onion sliced
- 3 garlic cloves chopped finely, grated or crushed
- 2 cm fresh ginger grated
- 1 preserved lemon chopped finely
- 8 boneless chicken thighs or bone in chicken thighs if you prefer
- 150 g pitted green olives I like the larger-sized queen olives
- 2 tablespoons parsley or coriander chopped (plus extra for sprinkling)
- Basmati rice or couscous/flatbreads/mashed potatoes to serve.
- Side salad optional
- Put a pinch of saffron in a measuring jug and add 200ml boiling water. Give it a little swirl with a spoon and set aside to infuse.
- Drizzle 2 tablespoons of olive oil into a wide, deep saucepan and add the sliced onion. Cover with a lid and cook on a low heat for 5 minutes until the onions have softened but are not brown.
- Add in the garlic, ginger and preserved lemon, stir and fry for 1 more minute.
- Add the chicken thighs, stir to coat the chicken in all the wonderful flavours and fry gently for 2 minutes.
- Next add in the saffron infused water and bring to the boil. Turn the heat down low and pop a lid on. Cook gently for 30 minutes, checking and stiring from time to time.
- After 30 minutes, remove the lid and add in the green olives. Stir everything together and bring back to the boil. Cook for a further 15 minutes with the lid off, stirring occasionally until the sauce is thickened and coating the chicken.
- Meanwhile cook some basmati rice according to packet instructions / your own preferences.
- When the tagine has had its final 15 minutes. Stir in 2 tablespoons of chopped coriander or parsley and serve with the basmati rice and a side salad, if you like.
- For added prettiness and flavour, sprinkle some extra parsley over the stew as a garnish.
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