Photo by Emily Avila

Moroccan Chicken with Olives and Preserved Lemons

Photo by Emily Avila

Moroccan Chicken with Olives and Preserved Lemons – Serves 4

Serve this dish with saffron rice or with roasted sweet potatoes flavored with cumin.


1 medium onion, finely diced (to yield about 1 cup)

About 10 sprigs fresh cilantro, leaves and stems finely chopped; more chopped leaves for garnish

Small bunch fresh flat-leaf parsley (about 8 sprigs), leaves and stems finely chopped

1 teaspoon paprika

½ teaspoon ground ginger

¼ teaspoon turmeric

¼ teaspoon ground cumin

¼ teaspoon kosher salt

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/8 to ¼ teaspoon cayenne

Small pinch saffron (about 10 threads), crushed

¼ cup olive oil

3-pound chicken, cut into 8 pieces

1 preserved lemon, most of the pulp removed; the rind cut into thin strips

1 cup red-brown unpitted olives, such as Gaetas


In a large bowl, mix the onion, herbs, and spices; this mixture is called a charmoula.

In a deep skillet or a Dutch oven, heat the oil on medium-high heat. Cook the chicken in two batches until browned on all sides, about 3 minutes per side, transferring the pieces to the bowl with the charmoula as they’re done. Pour off and discard most of the oil in the pan, leaving a film on the bottom. Toss the chicken to coat it with the charmoula.

Pour ¼ cup water into the pan over medium heat and scrape up any browned bits to help them dissolve. Remove the pan from the heat, add the chicken so it’s in a single layer (a little overlap is fine). Scrape out the bowl of charmoula, adding the contents to the pan. Add ¾ cup water and bring to a simmer over medium heat.

Reduce the heat to medium low and add the preserved lemon strips and olives to the sauce. Cover and simmer, turning the chicken occasionally, until the chicken is cooked through and very tender and the onion and herbs have melted into the sauce, 10 to 15 minutes. If it’s not yet saucy but the liquid is evaporating, add more water and continue cooking for another 10 to 15 minutes.

Transfer the chicken to a platter. Simmer the sauce uncovered so it has some body, about 3 minutes. Spoon the sauce over the chicken and sprinkle with chopped cilantro leaves.

Original recipe written by Kathy Wazana for Fine Cooking, #53. Reprinted with the permission of Fine Cooking.

One comment on “Moroccan Chicken with Olives and Preserved Lemons

  1. listings in san diego on said:

    Its superb as your other blog posts : D, thanks for putting up.

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