Braised Moroccan Chicken and Olives

By • October 9, 2009 • 136 Comments

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Author Notes: This flavorful dish was inspired by two of my favorite Moroccan ingredients- olives and preserved lemons. They work beautifully together in this dish to add a ton of flavor to the sauce. In addition, braising the chicken makes the meat wonderfully tender and juicy. Serve this dish over a bed of couscous to soak up all of the delicious sauce. Sonali aka the Foodie Physician

Food52 Review: This is a pitch-perfect take on a classic dish. Sonali assembles a mouth-tingling spice mixture of ginger, garlic, coriander, cumin, paprika, turmeric, cayenne, saffron and then adds green olives and preserved lemons to the party. The chicken is browned in oil (it's worth taking your time with this step, as you don't want it to burn) and then coated in the spice base before simmering gently in chicken stock until tender. Adding the lemons and olives towards the end helps retain their integrity and perfume. You may want to discard some of the fat after browning the chicken (this will depend on the meat you buy) -- we kept about 2 tablespoons. And couscous is a must. We used our favorite Israeli couscous (which Amanda blogged about a while back) and it was such a perfect foil for the rich, spicy sauce that we couldn't resist forking up every last grain. - A&MA&M

Serves 4

  • 4 tablespoons canola oil
  • 2.5 pounds chicken legs and thighs
  • Kosher salt
  • Black pepper
  • 1 1/2 cup small diced onion
  • 1 teaspoon minced ginger
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2-3 cups chicken stock
  • 1/4 teaspoon saffron
  • 1/2 cup green olives, rinsed
  • 2 preserved lemons, pulp removed; rind cut into strips
  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
  1. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a Dutch oven or large, deep skillet or over medium high heat. Dry the chicken pieces and season them with salt and pepper. Place them in the skillet in batches and brown on all sides. Remove the chicken and place on a plate.
  2. Add the onion to the skillet and cook until slightly softened. Add the ginger, garlic, coriander, cumin, paprika, turmeric and cayenne pepper and stir together. Add the chicken pieces and stir to coat with the spice mixture. Pour the chicken stock into the skillet so that 2/3 of the chicken is submerged. Add the saffron and stir to combine. Bring liquid to a simmer, cover the skillet and simmer on medium low heat 20-25 minutes. Add the olives and preserved lemons. Cover and cook another 10 minutes or until chicken is cooked through. Remove the chicken and turn the heat to high. Cook for another 6-8 minutes until sauce reduces slightly. Stir in the cilantro. Adjust seasoning to taste.
  3. Serve chicken on a bed of couscous. Spoon sauce over the top. Garnish with cilantro.
Jump to Comments (136)

Comments (136) Questions (3)

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7 days ago Svetlana Pavelko

This i amazing recipe! My family loved it. Only, instead of preserved lemons I found a very delicious lemon-ginger marmalade and added 3 teaspoons of it to the dish. Very tasty!

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about 1 month ago Beth100

We loved this(!) and as was noted in the recipe's headnotes, the flavors are beautifully balanced. Thank you for sharing a new go-to recipe!

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about 1 month ago Beth100

I can't wait to try this! Boneless/skinless thighs, or bone in with skin?

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about 1 month ago Sonali aka the Foodie Physician

Bone in with skin works best. You can remove the skin before serving to cut some calories/fat. I'm sure the recipe would also work with boneless, skinless thighs but I haven't tried it that way.

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about 1 month ago Beth100

Perfect, thanks! I have everything ready to make this tomorrow morning and serve tomorrow evening.

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about 1 month ago ama

So good! I didn't have a few things (turmeric, cumin, saffron), so I substituted Sazon mix (I always have some) instead. And no preserved lemons, so I just threw some lemon slices in the pan instead. I reduced this recipe by more than one half using boneless, skinless chicken breasts. Served with brown rice made with coconut and chicken stock. This recipe is SUCH a keeper. I'm very happy. Thank you!

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2 months ago Smw2170

I just made this last night and it was SO GOOD!!! I will definitely be adding this to the regular rotation of my go-to dishes, I'm so glad I found this!

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3 months ago SweetTooth

Really excellent! I served it with black rice and I thought the sweetness of the rice complemented the sauce very well. Everyone thought it was delicious. There were several of us who did not care for green olives and we thought the olives were great. One thing I would say: if you are using "quick" preserved lemons, rinse them *very* well and use less salt on the chicken. The dish was a little salty between the lemons I used, the olives, and the chickens (I tended towards the semi-generous side for seasoning my chicken).

Frodo

7 months ago Caroline Scriven

I just had this for dinner! It was wonderful.... served with rice. My hubby loved it too. Can't wait to give some to my neighbour tomorrow. YUMMY to the MAX

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7 months ago Chef Bunky

If it is bitter, you may have had the heat too high and something burned on the bottom. However, you can add more broth, and try adding some honey or agave syrup to tone it down a bit. The prunes or dry apricots would need to be added at the beginning of the cooking process in order to benefit the sauce.

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7 months ago Bali Miller

I just made this and reduced the sauce. While it is pretty -- my sauce is too spicy and bitter. Can you suggest what I can do? I am slightly desperate. I could pull out the chicken and add more broth and something to sweeten the sauce? Honey? Agave? Prunes?

Sammy_and_g_2

7 months ago wisesamsmum

Hi Sonali, I finally made this after months of drooling over the pictures and procrastinating. I'm so mad that I waited this long, because it was truly divine! Would you believe it, my 17-month old ate it all up, chicken, sauce, olives and all and pronounced it 'nummy' (yummy). Thanks for a brilliant recipe!

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9 months ago Muse

This sounds delicious...I have a question: can you use chicken breasts instead of thighs and dark meat? Thank you for posting your recipe...Peace, Light and Love.

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9 months ago Sonali aka the Foodie Physician

Yes, you can use chicken breast but I would use bone-in, skin on chicken breasts so that the meat doesn't dry out.

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10 months ago LeeLeeBee

This recipe was a big hit! I used one and a half homemade preserved lemons, since mine were quite big, and omitted the saffron. I also added a handful of dried currants during the reduction of the sauce; I found that I needed a little sweetness to balance the saltiness and sourness of the lemons. I served it with vegetariannirvana's Citrus Olive Couscous (http://food52.com/recipes...).

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about 1 year ago kschurms

I just made this tonight for a get together with friends, and despite some alterations, this was still delicious. Preserved lemons were substituted with regular + zest, and we didn't have any couscous, rice, etc. due to grain-free dietary restrictions. However, I saved the leftover sauce to mix in with Israeli couscous tomorrow because it was just that good! Cannot wait.

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about 1 year ago david

That sounds great! How did you add the regular lemons?

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about 1 year ago Gisele73

Made this for my birthday dinner. It was terrific, festive, not difficult, and introduced me to two ingredients I'd hesitated to try before, preserved lemons and saffron. Thanks!

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about 1 year ago deborah

This was yummy! I didn't have any olives, preserved lemons or raisins so I used lemon zest and dried cranberries. Added a dash of white wine for the stock. I'm definitely going to make this again.

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about 1 year ago mic79

tried it and it was GREEAT

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over 1 year ago Shira Hopfer

how long does this take to make?

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over 1 year ago Chef Bunky

This is a slow cooking dish in a tagine, it would take about 2 1/2 to 3 hours. The prep time would be about 30 minutes. You cook at a very low temperature with a tagine. A very slow simmer using a heat diffuser. You could accomplish the same dish using a braising pot.

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over 1 year ago Katie1

A wonderful recipe. I'll try it for my next home party. Everyone loves chicken!

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over 1 year ago Chef Bunky

This is a wonderful Moroccan dish well suited for a tagine. I have made this dish and variations of it with lamb or beef many times using a tagine. It can be made in just about anything you can braise in with great success as many here have indicated. Maybe, not everyone would enjoy Moroccan food, but for those that do this is a great dish to make.

Mug

over 1 year ago Ileana Morales | a little saffron

Made this last night. It was wonderful!! Couldn't get my hands on preserved lemons, so we subbed in lemon zest and juice. Seriously delicious dinner. May throw in some golden raisins next time. Thanks for this recipe!

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about 1 year ago Sandra

I love the idea of golden raisins added. Will try that next time. Ive done this recipe both with preserved lemons and lemon zest when out of preserved ones. Both turned out well.