Having so loved our trips to Marrakech, I was inspired to try out a variation on Moroccan chicken with preserved lemons and olives. It’s a winner in our house, and is well worth the time to prepare the ingredients in advance. It’s sweet, savoury and salty all at once, with mouthwateringly tender chicken. We serve it with tabbouleh (bulgur wheat with onions, tomatoes and herbs) – not quite traditional Moroccan but a beautiful accompaniment to the dish.
I normally use good quality chicken thighs, often from Fosse Meadows Farms via the ever-wonderful Brockley Market. The preserved lemons can be found in some supermarkets, but it is really easy to make them at home using the BBC GoodFood recipe.
Ingredients for the chicken (serves 4)
- 8 skin-on chicken pieces (thighs are good)
- 1 garlic, separated into cloves
- 2 preserved lemons, cut into strips
- Pitted green olives, handful
- Small onions, quartered
- 1 handful thyme
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 150ml white wine or chicken stock
- 1 pinch black pepper
- Preheat the oven to 150°C
- Season the chicken using Moroccan spices (ras-el-hanout or similar – you’ll want to put some paprika in there for a lovely smokey flavour)
- Put the chicken pieces into a roasting tin and add the garlic cloves, lemon strips, onion, olives and the thyme; just roughly pull the leaves off the stalks, leaving some intact for strewing over later. Add the oil and using your hands mix everything together, then spread the mixture out, making sure all the chicken pieces are skin side up.
- Sprinkle over the white wine or stock and grind on some pepper, then cover tightly and slow-cook for 2 hours.
- Uncover, and turn up the oven to 200°C. Cook the uncovered chicken for another 30-45 minutes, by which time the skin on the meat will have turned golden brown and the lemons will have begun to scorch and caramelise at the edges.
- Serve straight from the roasting tin: strewn with your remaining thyme and a tabbouleh salad. Green veg such as asparagus and green beans finish off the dish superbly.
- 125g bulgur wheat
- 4 medium tomatoes, diced
- Bunch of spring onions or 1 small red onion, finely chopped
- Large bunch of fresh flatleaf parsley, finely chopped
- Large bunch of fresh mint, chopped
- 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- Juice 1 large lemon
- Place the bulgur wheat in a large bowl and pour over boiling water until just covered (follow the instructions on the packet – the cooked weight will be about 3 times the dry weight of the bulgur wheat). Cover with a clean tea towel and stand for 15 minutes, until tender. Drain the bulgur wheat well and place in a sieve. Squeeze out the excess water using a spoon.
- Place the tomatoes, onions and herbs in a large bowl and toss together well. Add the drained bulgur wheat, garlic, olive oil and lemon juice and season well to taste.