Sunday Dinner: Braised Moroccan Chicken w/ Olives
This is the arroz con pollo of the Middle East. This is an amazing dish, that can be made ahead and is also a great party dish. Makes a lot.
If you haven't purchased that jar of preserved lemons yet, what are you waiting for?
They keep forever and you just need a little bit to perfume dishes such as tagines and this Moroccan braised stew.
I omitted the fresh ginger in the recipe, didn't really need it, and of course I added golden raisins to the couscous to make it a bit sweeter.
As for green olives, the recipe doesn't really say what kind to use, but I imagine a picholine would be good. But since I had a jar of Manzanilla olives on hand (that I use in martinis), that is what I used, and they were perfect in this dish.
A note about saffron. I know Trader Joe's sells saffron from Greece, but trust me, it's crap. You get what you pay for.
There is a reason saffron is so pricey, because it's a delicacy. Saffron is from the crocus flower and you use it sparingly. It takes 150 little crocus flowers to make 1 gram of saffron (I am such a wealth of unnecessary information!).
I was lucky enough to receive a small packet from Iran from my friend who works for a Persian family who brings back spices from the Middle East. You just need a few threads for most dishes, and it lasts a long time as long as it is stored properly. You can buy a good tin of saffron for about $25.
Check out this 1 oz. tin of Spanish saffron for $109.!!
Braised Moroccan Chicken w/ Olives: (adapted from Food52)
4 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil
3 lbs. chicken legs and thighs
Kosher salt & pepper
1 onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
3 cups chicken stock
1/4 teaspoon saffron
1/2 cup green olives
2 preserved lemons, pulp removed; rind cut into strips
1/4 cup of golden raisins
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
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.
Add the onion to the skillet and cook until slightly softened. Add the 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 and raisins. Adjust seasonings to taste.
Serve chicken on a bed of couscous. Spoon sauce over the top. Garnish with cilantro.