Moroccan Chicken Tagine with Olives and Preserved Lemon
This fragrant and flavorful Moroccan chicken tagine evokes the souks and spice markets of North Africa. Best of all, it’s relatively easy to prepare with pantry ingredients, and can be on the table in just over an hour.
There is something richly satisfying about North African food. I don’t know whether to blame the mildly exotic umami flavors of preserved lemon or the fiery heat of harissa. However, I confess I find Morocco’s cuisine, history, and culinary traditions fascinating.
I love the concept of couscous steamed over fragrant broth and imbued with the flavors of the rich stew contained below. Similarly, I am charmed by the appearance of an elegant tagine at the table, intrigued by the secrets it may hold.
However, as a busy wife and mother, the convenience of a healthy, hearty one pot meal holds undeniable appeal. A Moroccan chicken tagine is a comforting meal for busy weeknights. Its fragrance perfumes the kitchen and whets the appetite.
The flavors of a tagine, while mildly exotic, are familiar enough to be welcomed by both children and adults. In fact, I have found that tangines make excellent party fare. They’re always a good conversation starter and are easy to double for serving a crowd.
I have chosen to lighten this recipe by using skinless chicken. I know this is a departure from tradition. However, in my opinion it enhances both the texture and the flavor of the finished dish. I have noticed that chicken skin has a tendency to become rubbery when cooked in sauce. In addition, I believe the spices perfume the meat better when they are applied directly to the meat.
If you like, you could apply the seasoning paste to the meat earlier in the day and leave it to marinate. Doing so will certainly enhance the flavor of the dish. I confess I seldom get around to this extra step, and the dish is still delicious!
If you don’t have a batch of Zesty Preserved Lemons on hand, don’t worry. Store-bought preserved lemons will work just as well.
The only thing I am really exigent about is the quality of the olives. Off flavors from poor quality olives will destroy the dish. So, please, do take the trouble to get the best quality olives you can afford.
I hope your family enjoys the bright flavors of this Moroccan chicken tagine as much as mine does. Bon appétit!