Make Ahead

Chicken Tagine with Fennel, Preserved Lemons, and Green Olives

February  7, 2011
4 Ratings
  • Serves 4
Author Notes

This Moroccan chicken stew is as easy as it is elegant. Preserved lemons give a wonderful floral aroma to the end result, while the olives provide the necessary brine to cut the richness of the chicken broth. A perfect winter one-pot meal. - BigGirlPhoebz —PhoebeLapine

Test Kitchen Notes

This recipe sang "dinner guests" the moment I read through the ingredients. If you're not a lover of cilantro, you needn't worry. When cooked with the chicken, it disguises itself in such a way that you just might become a fan. The marinade comes together quickly in a food processor, and with only a few ingredients that require actual prep-work, you won't be spending all day in the kitchen. The flavors in the finished dish are fragrant with just the right complexity, while the olives and chickpeas add textures that are elegant and earthy. It’s an easy and beautiful dish that is sure to be on my dinner table again. My guests? Well, they're hoping for another invitation. —SwoonMySpoon

What You'll Need
  • For the marinade:
  • 1 large shallot
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 2-inch knob ginger, peeled
  • 1 cup cilantro leaves, plus more for garnish
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • For the tagine:
  • 4 whole chicken legs
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 1 fennel bulb, trimmed, quartered, and thinly sliced
  • One 15-ounce can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1 quart chicken stock or water
  • 2 small preserved lemons, pith removed, and zest thinly sliced
  • ½ pound pitted green olives (kalamata)
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme (optional)
  1. n a small food processor, puree the ingredients for the marinade. (Or, alternatively, you can mince by hand). Place the chicken in a medium mixing bowl and cover with the marinade. Rub the mixture into all the crevices of the meat, including under the skin, until very well coated. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
  2. n a large Dutch oven or lidded casserole, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Remove the chicken from the marinade and brown it in batches, about 5 minutes per side. Remove and set aside.
  3. Add the onion to the pot and sauté until translucent, about 5 minutes, scraping up any brown bits from the bottom. Add the chicken back to the pot, along with the fennel, chickpeas, chicken stock, and any remaining marinade. Bring to a boil over high heat, then turn back to low and simmer, covered for 45 minutes. Add the preserved lemon, olives, and thyme (if using). Cover and simmer for another 20 minutes, until the chicken is very tender, but not falling apart. Taste for seasoning, and add salt and pepper as needed.
  4. To serve, place one chicken leg on each plate and spoon the broth over the top, making sure to get some of the olives, fennel, and chickpeas. Serve alongside couscous and/or crusty bread.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • MrsBeeton
  • alexmr
  • Mollyh
  • VanessaS
  • aargersi
Phoebe is a writer, gluten-free chef, culinary instructor, award-winning blogger, and author of The Wellness Project. You can find her healthy comfort food and gluten-free finds on

9 Reviews

murrboysmom June 6, 2023
The chicken is melt in your mouth tender. It needs salt and acid. I was underwhelmed.
Lucy February 27, 2022
This is so densely flavored and delicious that I am removing all the other chicken tagine dishes from my library. This is the one!
sarah P. February 13, 2014
am looking at these preserved lemons and wondering if I should cut the whole lemon up and add? Also, it's so soft, I can't quite see how to remove the zest (peel) not to mention the white pith.
pvanhagenlcsw February 13, 2013
Wonderful dish with a range of flavors. I added some greens, the leftover couscous and made a soup with all the lively leftover sauce for yet another meal.
MrsBeeton December 5, 2011
Our new family favorite. Now simply known in our household as "the best chicken stew ever." Thanks for an amazing recipe!
alexmr November 2, 2011
Mollyh October 2, 2011
What a remarkable dish. I used boneless, skinless chicken thighs and it was delicious. My husband, who doesn't eat olives, still devoured it. I look forward to making this again!
VanessaS February 8, 2011
Sounds delicious!
aargersi February 8, 2011
Love love love this!!!