Cook-Along: Recipe for Tagine of Chicken With Preserved Lemon and Olives

by Anne Maxfield on January 7, 2011

Accidental Locavore Chicken TagineFor 2011 the Accidental Locavore has decided to start a cook-along, going through the shelves of cookbooks and actually cooking from the recipes. Join in and help to decide which books stay and which are deaccessioned. This week; a tagine of chicken from Claudia Rodin’s Arabesque, with recipes from Morocco, Turkey and Lebanon.  What you see here is adapted from the book with changes made while cooking. The recipe says it serves 4 but you could easily stretch it to 6 with a grain and a vegetable side dish. It’s an easy dish, the only thing that takes time is cooking the chicken, and reducing the sauce.

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 onions grated or very finely chopped (I finely chopped one very large onion)
  • 2-3 garlic cloves crushed
  • 1/2 teaspoon saffron
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 chicken cut into 6-8 pieces
  • salt and pepper
  • juice of 1/2 lemon (I ended up using a whole lemon)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped coriander
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley (flat leaf)
  • peel of 2 preserved lemons (you can make your own, or buy them in Middle Eastern groceries like Kalustyan’s, I used 3 of theirs with some juice from the jar) cut into strips
  • 12-16 green olives (I used a really nice pitted olive mix from Fairway)
  • Optional: 1 box frozen artichoke hearts

In a wide casserole or heavy bottomed pan that can hold all the chicken in one layer, heat the olive oil and add the onions. Saute over medium low heat until they are soft, then add the garlic, saffron, ginger and stir to mix. Add the chicken pieces, season liberally with salt and pepper, and add 1 1/4 cups of water. Bring to a simmer and cover. Cook for 40 minutes, turning the chicken pieces a couple of times.

Stir into the pan the lemon juice, the chopped coriander, parsley, the preserved lemon peel, and the olives. If you’re using artichoke hearts, add them now.  Simmer 10 minutes uncovered until the sauce is thick. If the sauce isn’t thick enough (and mine wasn’t), remove the chicken from the pan, turn up the heat, and reduce the sauce until it’s at the desired consistency. Return the chicken to the pan, and let it heat through. Serve over couscous to absorb the sauce, and enjoy.

My rating: 3 stars (out of 5). The dish as prepared by the book was a little bland. It took longer to cook and reduce the sauce, but it was pretty easy to prepare. If you didn’t have preserved lemons, you could probably use some thin strips of lemon peel from a small lemon. After we ate it, I went back and added the peel of another preserved lemon (total 3), and about a tablespoon of the liquid from the jar, that seemed to help. A few more olives might have helped, if the cook hadn’t been nibbling…

Frank’s rating: 3 1/2 stars: “Good but not great”.

What did you think? Keep the book or deaccession?

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Michelle January 15, 2011 at 4:18 pm

OK, bought the chicken, but a tiny jar of saffron was 15 bucks! I am going to another store this afternoon to try to find it a bit cheaper. I am DYING to try this….

joan January 11, 2011 at 2:20 pm

hey, this looks great! and you know lebanese, turkish, & armenian foods are my absolute faves: be an angel and save me the book…….pick it up on friday???

Michelle January 11, 2011 at 12:11 pm

Oh, YUM! I’ve got everything but the chicken and saffron. There goes my goal to eat 90% vegetarian! I really do LOVE chicken dishes.

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