This recipe is amazing- tangy, salty, savory, and a little edge of sweet in every bite. So good with lentils, rice, or roasted sweet potatoes.
1 medium onion, finely dices (about 1 cup)
10 sprigs cilantro, leaves and stems finely chopped
8 sprigs flat-leave parsley, leaves and stems finely chopped
1 tsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. turmeric
1/4 tsp. ground cumin
1/4 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
1/8 – 1/4 tsp. cayenne
1/4 cup olive oil
3 pounds chicken pieces, skin-on and bone-in (legs and thighs are my favorite)
1 preserved lemon (4 quarters), most of the pulp removed and the rind cut into thin strips (see recipe at the end of this entry)
1 cup red-brown olives (check the olive bar, not the canned section) – rinsed kalamatas work in a pinch, but are not ideal
1. In a large bowl, mix the onion, herbs, and spices; this mixture is called a charmoula. In a deep skillet or a Dutch oven, heat the oil on medium-high heat. Cook the chicken in two batches until browned on all sides, about 3 minutes per side, transferring the pieces to the bowl with the charmoula as they’re done.
2. Pour off and discard most of the oil in the pan, leaving a film on the bottom. Toss the chicken to coat it with the charmoula.
3. Add 1/4 cup water to the pan and scrape off any tasty bits that have stuck during the browning process. Add the chicken an charmoula to the pan. Add another 3/4 cup water and bring to a simmer over medium heat.
4. Reduce heat to medium low and add the preserved lemon strips and olives to the sauce. Cover and simmer, turning the chicken occasionally, until the chicken is cooked through and very tender and the onions and herbs have melted into the sauce, about 10-15 minutes. (You can simmer longer, especially if you are using all dark meat- this recipe is particularly good when the meat is so tender it’s falling off the bones.
5. If it’s not yet saucy but the liquid is evaporating, add more water and continue cooking for another 10-15 minutes.
6. Transfer the chicken to a platter. Simmer the sauce uncovered so it has some body, about 3 minutes. Spoon the sauce over the chicken OR (what we do) shred and toss the chicken back into the sauce, turning to coat, and serve directly from the hot pan. ( I think you get more sauce that way, which is the best part of the dish).
Note: after simmering so long, the chicken skin doesn’t really have a brown and crispy texture- if you want that, remove the chicken from the sauce in step 6 and broil briefly in the oven. It’s good either way, just a matter of aesthetics.
The great thing about this recipe is that you don’t have to make it each time you do the Moroccan chicken; just store the jar in the fridge after ripening, and rinse the lemons very well before using. It may seem like a bit of work worth skipping, but these lemons add a complexity to the dish that is worth every second it takes to make them.
1/4 cup salt, more if desired
1 pint-ish jar (I use a pop top sealing jar we got jam in a while back), sterilized (dishwasher or boil for 10 minutes)
1. Quarter the lemons from the top to within 1/2 inch of the bottom, sprinkle salt on the exposed flesh, then reshape the fruit.
2. Place 1 tablespoon salt on the bottom of a sterile 1 pint mason jar. Pack in the lemons and push them down, adding more salt between layers. Press the lemons down to release their juices and to make room for the remaining lemons. (If the juice released from the squashed fruit does not cover them, add additional lemon juice- you must cover the fruit in the juice-salt brine.)
3. Seal the jar and let the lemons ripen in a warm place, shaking the jar each day to distribute the salt and juice. Let ripen for 2-4 weeks.