A classic Moroccan chicken tagine with preserved lemon and green olives. Full of flavor with onion, garlic, saffron, ginger and cilantro. This post contains affiliate links.
I know what you’re thinking. Why is she making a braised chicken tagine in the middle of a heat wave? Allow me to explain. Yesterday was my daughter Eclair’s 7th birthday. When I was a kid, it was a tradition that Mom would always let us pick the dinner she’d make on our big day. I remember often choosing chicken and broccoli, a baked chicken casserole with a creamy yellow curry sauce. It was a tradition we all loved, and one I now continue with my girls. So last week as I planned my menu for the week and wrote my grocery list, I asked my birthday girl what she wanted, fully expecting the answer to involve mac ‘n’ cheese and/or cheeseburgers. She thought for a moment and then her little face lit up, “Couscous! The chicken and couscous you make in the funny pan.”
She was, of course, referring to my tagine, both the dish and the pan it’s cooked in. It’s a dish I make often during the colder months, served over the most amazing hand-rolled couscous. I secretly beamed with pride that my little girl chose Moroccan food over the typical kid choices. So heat wave or not, I was making just what she asked for. (Her other favorite chicken dish, chicken satay, would have been more appropriate for the weather, but tradition is tradition so she got what she wanted!)
Although the dish has quite a few ingredients, I toss the marinade and chicken in a Ziploc bag the night before and then there’s about 15-20 minutes of active time and then you just let is bubble away until the chicken is tender. And the couscous takes 15 minutes. In my house, the girls shovel spoonfuls of it into their little mouths, making it a dinner I’ll serve again and again. If you don’t have a tagine, no worries, you can use a braising pan, though the tagine looks pretty darn cool. This is the first time I used the one shown in the picture – it was a gift from Mom. My other one broke after many years of use.
- 1 large onion, grated
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1-inch piece of fresh ginger, grated
- a small bunch of fresh cilantro, chopped
- a pinch of saffron threads
- freshly squeezed juice of 1 lemon
- 1 tsp. Kosher salt
- 3 Tbsp. olive oil
- 8 chicken thighs
- 1 Tbsp. olive oil plus a pat of butter
- 2 Tbsp. chopped preserved lemon, or a few thinly sliced lemon wedges if you can't find preserved
- 6 oz. large green pitted olives
- 3 sprigs fresh thyme
- Combine all of the marinade ingredients in a large Ziploc bag. Add the chicken and toss to coat. Refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight for best flavor.
- Heat the olive oil and butter in a tagine or braising pan over medium heat. When foam subsides, add
- half the chicken, skin side down, reserving the marinade. Brown on both sides then remove to a plate. Repeat with remaining chicken.
- Return all of the chicken to the pan. Pour the marinade over the chicken and add ½ cup of water, the thyme and preserved lemon. Bring to a low simmer and cover the tagine. Simmer for 45 minutes, turning the chicken occasionally. Add the olives about 10 minutes before the dish is done.
- Serve with couscous.