Chicken tagine with preserved lemons and olives is one of the most well-known dishes from Morocco. With the recipe so readily available, I felt it didn’t warrant another—but the flavors are an essential part of Moroccan cuisine. So I started to experiment with it, and this is my interpretation: a modern, zingy salad inspired by the traditional version. The signature flavors of tagine became a marinade for the meat, and the other ingredients—olives, preserved lemons, couscous, herbs—form the salad. This is perfect for a summer supper with a cold glass of vino and if the weather’s lousy, it will bring a little of that hazy heat from the dusty hills of Morocco to brighten up your home.
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 4-1/2tablespoons olive oil
- Juice of 2-1/2 lemons
- 1-1/4 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs
- 1 cup couscous
- 1/2 red onion, finely chopped
- 1 fennel bulb, finely sliced
- A 4-ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 1 preserved lemon (see page 184), pith discarded and zest finely chopped
- 3/4 cup pitted green olives, roughly chopped
- A handful of finely chopped cilantro leaves, plus a small handful of leaves to garnish
- A handful of finely chopped mint leaves
- Sea salt
- Using a mortar and pestle, mash the garlic into a paste with a little salt. Add the cumin, ground coriander, ginger, turmeric, two tablespoons of the olive oil, and the juice of 1/2 lemon and mix well. Put the chicken in a mixing bowl and add the spice paste. Mix everything together really well so that the chicken thighs are completely coated. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour or overnight.
- Put the couscous into a small bowl and pour over enough warm water to cover by about 1/4 inch. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap.
- Put the red onion in a small mixing bowl, then add the juice of 1/2 lemon and a small pinch of salt. Toss together and leave for a few minutes to mellow the rawness of the onion. Add the fennel and 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil and toss together.
- Put the couscous in a large mixing bowl. Add the chickpeas, fennel and onion, preserved lemon, olives, herbs, juice of 1 lemon, and 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Mix everything together really well.
- Meanwhile preheat the broiler to 500°F or its highest setting. Place the chicken on a foil-covered broiler pan and broil for 7 to 8 minutes each side or until cooked through and a little golden. Once cooked, slice into thin strips, season with a little salt, and squeeze over the juice of 1/2 lemon.
- To serve, turn the salad out onto a large platter. Arrange the chicken over the top and spoon over any juices left in the pan. Garnish with cilantro leaves and serve immediately.
More from Orange Blossom and Honey
Reprinted with permission from Orange Blossom and Honey by John Gregory-Smith and published by Kyle Books, 2017.