Before I even thought about making a Moroccan feast, I was intrigued with preserved lemons. I made this recipe and asked a few friends to sample it. My newly converted vegan friend waited until everyone had served themselves and then he scraped the sauce off the chicken, piled it on his plate and declared, “This is the best chicken dish I’ve ever had!”
Even if you never plan on making a Moroccan feast, this is a great recipe to have in your repertoire. The flavors are spectacular. The preserved lemons (available at my Amazon Affiliate Store) and olives elevate simple chicken thighs to party food.
The recipe is done in four stages, with lots of waiting time. It will taste better if you make it at least one day before the party. But don’t fret: you can do the first stage early in the morning and complete the dish the day of the party. I buy chicken thighs with the bone in because I think they have more flavor.
There are basically 4 steps to this recipe, with lots of time between.
- Step one: Brine chicken (lots of waiting time)
- Step two: Prepare spice rub and coat chicken (more waiting time)
- Step three: Saute everything
- Step four: Cook (more waiting time)
You can use the free time between steps to prep other dishes, get out glasses; or make a nice cup of tea, put your feet up and nibble on cookies. The guests won’t notice if you sneak a few.
CHICKEN WITH PRESERVED LEMONS AND OLIVES
EVENT: Moroccan Feast
SERVES: 8-10 People
12 bone in chicken thighs, skin removed
1/2 cup kosher salt
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup hot water
3-4 cups cold water
2 teaspoons ground ginger
4 teaspoons ground cumin
4 teaspoons ground turmeric
4 teaspoons sweet paprika
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2-4 tablespoons olive oil
2-4 tablespoons olive oil
4 onions finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 1/2 preserved lemons, peel only cut into slivers (available at my Amazon Affiliate Store)
2 cups pitted green olives in brine, drained. (Don’t use Spanish olives with pimentos!)
1/2 teaspoon saffron
1-2 cups chicken stock
Lemon zest, fresh parsley or cilantro
Dutch oven or roasting pan
1. In a bowl large enough to hold all of the chicken thighs (and one that will fit into your refrigerator), combine salt and sugar and hot water. Completely dissolve salt and sugar.
2. When dissolved, add 3 cups of cold water and all the chicken pieces. Water should completely cover the chicken.
3. Cover and regrigerate for at least two hours.
Make spice paste:
1. Combine all spices with olive oil to make a paste.
2. Remove chicken from the brine and drain and rinse 3 times.
3. Rub spice paste all over chicken and let it sit at least 2 hours.
1. In a large saute pan, heat oil and brown chicken pieces. Remove to a Dutch oven or roasting pan with lid.
2. Saute garlic and onions in same pan just until slightly softened.
3. Place onion / garlic mixture on top of chicken pieces.
4. Add enough chicken stock to come halfway up the pan.
5. Add saffron to the stock. Add preserved lemon slivers.
6. Bring to boil on stove, then reduce to a simmer.
7. After 1 hour, add green olives, distributing them throughout the pot. There should be quite a bit of thick sauce. If too dry, add more chicken stock. If liquid is too thin, reduce slightly.
TO SERVE: Add lemon zest, fresh parsley or cilantro.