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Chicken, lemon and olive stew

30 May 2014 / 14:05:57  GRReporter
2195 reads

Danielle Lachana

We now arrive in Morocco to try a dish that, although popular throughout North Africa, is often considered the 'national dish of Morocco' - Tagine. There are innumerable  versions, using anything from meat - chicken, lamb, beef, fish, vegetables, dried fruits, and even eggs!

 Tagine (or 'Tajine') is named after the two-piece, clay or ceramic, cooking pot in which the dish is traditionally made. The tagine generally has a circular base and a cone-shaped top with a hole for the steam to escape. As the food is cooked the steam inside rises up inside the cone-shaped top where it condenses on the sloping walls and runs back down making the cooked foods exceptionally moist and uniquely tasty.

If you do not have a tagine, it is a wonderful investment, but you can simply make the recipe below in a thick-bottomed pan with a lid, or a Dutch oven.

A particular feature of this dish is the preserved (salt-cured) lemons, which are a staple in Morocco but are hard to find outside. Here is one of many links for making your own, http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2014/feb/15/make-your-own-preser... but, if you do not have the time, you can make tasty salted, albeit not 'preserved', lemons as indicated here below. It is best not to simply use the fresh lemons as they are since they add too much acidity to the dish. Stewing them with the salt helps to develop a more mellow  flavour.

***

RECIPE

(Serves 4 -6)

 

 METHOD

 

* For the lemons

Cut the lemons into eighths. Bring the water to the boil in a small saucepan together with the salt then add the lemon juice and lemon sections.

Boil gently, uncovered, for about 20 - 30 minutes until the peel feels slightly soft and the liquid has been reduced by about half - if it evaporates too rapidly reduce the heat and cover the pan, or, conversely, increase the heat , until about 150 ml of liquid remain.

Leave to cool.

 

Place the tagine or other cooking vessel** over a low heat (using a diffuser if you have one) and pour in enough oil to coat the bottom.

Add the onion, followed by the garlic. Sprinkle over the ginger, soaked saffron together with its liquid, and cinnamon followed by 1 tbsp of the lemon cooking juices (or preserved lemon water) and the  roughly chopped flesh . You can briefly rinse the lemon flesh to remove some of the salt if you prefer.

Add the parsley and half the coriander and toss together.

Lay the chicken pieces on top and the olives. Try to do this attractively as ideally the food should remain in this position when serving.

Pour in the 175 ml of water and cover tightly. If you cannot hear the water starting to simmer in about 15 minutes, slightly increase the heat. However, keep the heat as low as possible to avoid burning.

Simmer gently for about 45 - 60 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through and very tender .

**  NOTE: If not using a tagine it is advisable to stir the mixture every 10 - 15 minutes to prevent sticking to the bottom.

Remove from the heat and leave to rest for 10 minutes.

Serve sprinkled with the remaining coriander and accompanied by bread to soak up the rich juices. This is also very good served with couscous (see previous GRR recipe for a quick couscous http://www.grreporter.info/en/vegetable_couscous/11179) although traditionally in Morocco, Couscous is a separate dish.

Do like they do in Morocco, eat in the company of friends and directly from the Tagine (or pan!).

Enjoy your moist and delicious chicken!

Tags: Taginge Tajine Chicken and Lemon Mediterranean recipes Morocco Moroccan cuisine
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