Braised Moroccan Chicken and Olives Recipe on Food52


Braised Moroccan Chicken and Olives

November 29, 2020
24 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom
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

Test Kitchen Notes

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&M —The Editors

  • Prep time 10 minutes
  • Cook time 40 minutes
  • Serves 4
  • 4 tablespoons canola oil
  • 2 1/2 pounds chicken legs and thighs
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt, or more to taste
  • 1 pinch Black pepper, or more to taste
  • 1 1/2 cups small diced onion
  • 1 teaspoon minced ginger
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 cups chicken stock, more as needed
  • 1/4 teaspoon saffron
  • 1/2 cup green olives, rinsed
  • 2 preserved lemons, pulp removed; rind cut into strips
  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
In This Recipe
  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.
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    199 Reviews

    Margo W. February 14, 2021
    Skipped the olives and used only one lemon per personal preference. Next time would double the chicken for the amount of sauce.
    Tina February 3, 2021
    Love this dish, however whenever I make it I can’t seem to get the browning of the chicken right. The skin falls off and I never achieve a nice “brown”. Any suggestions?
    Afsana A. November 29, 2020
    Somarico November 5, 2020
    My husband and I adore this recipe. Thank you!! We love to add carrots and zucchini and dried apricots. We also just use the juice of one lemon since we don't usually have preserved lemon on hand. Enjoy!!!
    Paula T. January 11, 2020
    You can make your own preserved lemons. Just make sure you scrub the lemons first to get rid of the wax on the outside. Poke holes in them, pack in a jar, laying with kosher salt and cover, and let sit for a week or two in the refrigerator. Very easy. Good luck and God bless!!!
    Sarah S. January 12, 2020
    Just tried my first round of preserved lemons - thanks for the tips!
    Paula T. January 12, 2020
    Just remember the longer they sit the better they will be and they will not get bad because of the salt God bless
    Sarah S. June 6, 2019
    Made this for dinner when meeting my boyfriend's parents for the first time--knocked it out of the park! So delicious, simple, and more importantly - easy to do most of the work ahead of time so you're not distracted or afraid of burning something when guests arrive. Skipped the saffron as it wasn't readily available - still amazing. Definitely going into my top 20 rotation.
    Author Comment
    Sonali A. June 19, 2019
    So glad you liked it!
    Lauren B. May 3, 2019
    This has quickly become a favorite in our house and our go-to recipe when we have guests over.
    Chris P. December 16, 2018
    Amazing recipe. Absolutely love the spices and the way the sauce mixes with the olives.
    Natalie November 26, 2018
    Is the chicken supposed to be skinless or skin on??
    Linda November 27, 2018
    Skin on
    Natalie November 27, 2018
    Amazing!! I just made it for dinner. I did make the mistake of adding more salt before I added the olives and preserved lemon -- they add a ton of salt to the dish! I did find the chicken skin a little bit unpleasant since it's not crispy, but soft and chewy. Is it meant to be this way?
    Max September 20, 2018
    Added dried apricots along with the olives. Everything came out so freaking good. Nice and flavorful, especially on day two. Will keep this in my recipe rolodex for sure.
    Linda June 20, 2018
    OMG...this is just the most flavorful dish! I made this last week-end for friends who have just returned from Marrakesh and they said it was better than what they ate there. I made it the day before to allow the flavors to settle in. Served it with Moroccan carrots and Israeli couscous. It was so outstanding that I'm making it again in 2 weeks for our gourmet dinner group. The only change I made was adding more olives.
    MBE June 17, 2018
    Yum! The only thing I will change next time is to omit the saffron. I fell like it gets overwhelmed by the cumin etc. so will save this $$ ingredient for recipes where it shines. The best part of this recipe is that the leftovers are as good if not better than the day it is cooked :-)
    ASeaWulf May 1, 2018
    One of my favorite recipes of all time! I make this constantly and have started to add lots of other veggies and dried fruits to the mix like carrots, zucchini, and prunes.
    Analida B. February 22, 2018
    This dish sounds lovely!
    I like to take a whole roaster chicken and cut it into pieces and slow cook it in a tagine on the stovetop or slow cooker and add some thinly sliced potatoes at the end.
    steve February 15, 2018
    I use a very similar recipe that I found in Molly Stevens classic cookbook, All About Braising.
    Karen B. February 13, 2018
    made this last weekend and it was wonderful! i added some red peppadew peppers when i put the olives in and it was a nice addition to the Moroccan Chicken dish.
    rebecca P. August 15, 2017
    I made this a few days ago for friends. I found preserved lemon at a specialty store and used that. Once I tasted the lemons (after rinsing and removing pith) I only used about half what the recipe called for to avoid too strong a flavor. Results were really delicious! I used mostly thighs w some breast meat. Breast was fine but not as good as the thigh, as predicted.
    catdaddysammy July 20, 2017
    I made this last night in my new dutch oven and it turned out fantastic. I couldn't find preserved lemons so I just baked some lemon slices until they were tender and it worked famously. Such great flavors here!!! I also popped the chicken thighs under the broiler for a few minutes while the sauce was reducing to crisp up the skin and it turned out delicious!!! Great recipe.
    Stephanie B. March 25, 2017
    I've made this several times. It's earned a place in my rotation, it's absolutely one of my favorite chicken stew type recipes. I think what really makes it for me is the preserved lemons. I make these ones: I think they're absolutely worth the 4-5 day wait. They make this recipe and if you can plan to make the lemons the rest of the recipe comes together quickly. I use a different type of olive than the usual green, I wish I remember what they're called, but they're more round and a brighter green with a more mild flavor.
    Gina B. February 17, 2017
    This is my new fave recipe. I use Smoked Paprika Dolce and half the cayenne. Also add 1 TB honey to balance. And reduce the sauce! Excellent flavor.