Chicken Tagine with Preserved Lemons, Moroccan Olives and Saffron-Raisin Quinoa
- 1 1/2 pounds chicken parts (legs, thighs or breasts), skin removed
- 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
- 1 medium red onion, peeled, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
- 1/2 teaspoon lime juice
- 1 preserved lemon (pulp and skin), about 4 ounces, rinse (see Note, below)
- 1/4 cup pitted green Moroccan olives (about 12 olives)
For the quinoa:
- 3/4 cup quinoa
- 1/2 teaspoon saffron
- 1/4 cup raisins or currants
- 1 small carrot, peeled and cut in small dice
- Parsley for garnish (optional)
1. Wash the chicken parts and dry thoroughly. Place the oil in a heavy Dutch oven or similar vessel over high heat and brown the chicken, about 8 minutes. Remove to a side plate.
2. Reduce the heat to low and add the onion, garlic, cinnamon, ginger, turmeric and lime juice to the Dutch oven. Toss to combine, then place the chicken parts on top of the onions.
3. Separate the lemon pulp from the lemon skin. Chop the lemon pulp and scatter over the chicken. Cut the lemon skin into julienne slices and set aside.
4 Add 1/2 cup water to the pot and simmer, partially covered, about 30 minutes.
5. Meanwhile, make the quinoa: bring 1 1/2 cups water to a boil, add the quinoa, saffron and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, for about fifteen minutes. Stir in the raisins and diced carrot and allow to stand, covered, at least five minutes.
To serve, place a 2/3-cup scoop of the quinoa mixture on each plate, then the chicken. Spoon sauce from the cooking pot over the chicken. Scatter on the preserved lemon pieces. Garnish the quinoa with parsley, if desired.
Preserved lemons are essential to Moroccan cooking. They're available in specialty markets or you can easily make them yourself. There are several different methods but the one I like is attributed to Paula Wolfert on Epicurious: 24 ounces lemons(4 - 6, depending on size), scrubbed and cut into quarters, are sealed in a 6-cup capacity jar with 2/3 cup Kosher salt and 1 cup fresh lemon juice. This mixture is left to stand at room temperature for seven days. (Shake the jar each day to redistribute the contents.) Store the lemons in the preserving liquid in the refrigerator for up to six months. I usually rinse the lemon pieces before use to cut the saltiness a bit.
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