Moroccan chicken tagine with preserved lemons and olives

Moroccan chicken tagine with preserved lemons and olives
Something strange happened to our chilli plant. It went on holiday to my parents’ house for two weeks (while we holidayed in France for two weeks), and while sunning itself in their conservatory our humble little green jalapeños turned red! We bought the plant early last summer and had a generous crop of mild, but delicious jalapeño peppers for months. It stopped flowering over winter, but came back with gusto this summer and we began to use the green chillies again. I don’t know if the plant needed time to mature, or if it was the intense sun and warmth of the conservatory, but either way we returned to a glamorous plant bejewelled with fiery red chillies…
Homegrown chilli plant
We’ve used some of the red chillies in stir-fries and curries, or fried them with garlic and kale for a simple side dish, but we used the final one (for now) to flavour this gorgeous chicken tagine. This is an amalgamation of a few different tagine recipes, and is also inspired by a tagine I was served by friends and one we had in our riad in Marrakech last November. It combines sweet honey, sharp preserved lemons, hot chilli and salty olives with succulent chicken legs and, with the essential addition of ras el hanout (a North African blend of spices), feels like an exotic treat. It’s a great dish for serving a large group, but the chicken is also perfect as leftovers for lunch salads or sandwiches during the week. My favourite bit is the plentiful gravy that surrounds the chicken legs by the end of cooking, and in my opinion requires a great hunk of crusty bread for dipping.

One year ago:
Fennel and courgette salad (using red chilli, funnily enough!)
Spanish prawns and chorizo
Ingredients for Moroccan chicken tagine
Ingredients (serves 4-5)
5 chicken legs (skin on)
4 small cloves of garlic, crushed
Thumb-size piece of ginger, grated
1 tbsp runny honey
1 tbsp cumin
½ tsp turmeric
1 generous tsp ras el hanout
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
5 tbsp olive oil
2 small white onions
1 red chilli
1 medium tomato
7 half slices of preserved lemons
15 green olives
450ml water

1. Place the chicken in a large bowl or tub (or the container it came in!) and add the marinade ingredients (garlic, ginger, honey, cumin, turmeric, ras el hanout, salt, pepper and olive oil).
Adding the marinade ingredients to the chiken legs
Mix very well so all the chicken is coated and then cover and set aside to marinade at room temperature for as long as you can – at least an hour is ideal, but you can prepare as far in advance as the night before (in this case put the chicken in the fridge overnight but remember to take it out a few hours before cooking so it can come back to room temperature).
Marinading the chicken legs for Moroccan tagine

2. Preheat the oven to 180C/160C fan/Gas Mark 4. Thinly slice the onions and place at the bottom of your tagine.
Thinly sliced white onions for Moroccan chicken tagine
3. Prepare the chilli and tomato – deseed both and thinly slice.
Finely sliced tomato and red chilli
4. Heat a little olive oil in a frying pan and brown the chicken legs on both sides over a medium heat. You might need to do this in batches depending on the size of your pan. Don’t worry if the skin looks a bit black – this is the sugar in the honey caramelising – just don’t actually burn the flesh!
Browning the marinated chicken legs for the tagine
5. Arrange the chicken legs on top of the sliced onions in the tagine.
Arranging the chicken legs in the tagine
6. Scatter over the chilli, tomato, lemons and olives and pour in the water.
Adding other ingredients to the Moroccan chicken tagine 1
Adding other ingredients to the Moroccan chicken tagine 2
7. Place the lid on the tagine and cook in the oven for 1 hour.
Moroccan chicken tagine served with olive bread and green herb salad
Take the tagine straight to the table for dramatic effect, and serve with fresh, crusty bread or a big bowl of couscous, and a herby green salad.
Moroccan chicken tagine for Sunday dinner

2 thoughts on “Moroccan chicken tagine with preserved lemons and olives

  1. Hi,great blog post and awsome photography!
    Just a little tip with the chicken, only half cook the chicken in the pan, then put them in the oven for the remaining half, they will come out golden and crispy 🙂


    • Hi! Thanks for your comment, I’m really glad you like the blog and my pictures. That is indeed what the recipe calls for – you just brown the chicken in the pan, which means giving the legs a quick, intense fry on both sides, and then finish the cooking in the tagine in the oven. As you say, this gives the chicken a lovely crisp skin, but keeps the meat inside perfectly moist. Delicious!

      Liked by 1 person

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