Chicken with Preserved Lemon and Green Olives
SERVES 4 - 8
The chicken in this simple but exotic dish from Yacout is so moist and succulent that its flesh can easily be lifted from the bones and eaten, Moroccan-style, with the fingers.
5 cloves garlic, peeled
1/4 cup minced fresh parsley
1/4 cup minced fresh cilantro
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. ground ginger
Pinch saffron threads
Freshly ground black pepper
2 2 1/2-lb. chickens, quartered
2 chicken livers
3 medium onions, grated and drained
12 oz. Moroccan green olives, Pitted
1 Preserved Lemon, rinsed and completely quartered
1. Crush garlic on a cutting board with flat side of a chef's knife. Sprinkle with about 2 tsp. salt, then finely chop garlic and crush again to form a smooth paste. Combine garlic paste, parsley, cilantro, cumin, ginger, saffron, and pepper in a large bowl. Add chicken quarters and livers, stirring well to coat with herbs and spices. Cover bowl and set aside to marinate for 1 hour at room temperature or 4 hours in the refrigerator.
2. Place chicken quarters and livers in a large heavy-bottomed casserole. Add onions and 2 cups water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer gently for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally to keep chicken moist.
3. Remove chicken livers and mash to a paste with a fork, adding a bit of cooking liquid if necessary. Return livers to casserole and cook for another 20 minutes or until chicken is tender and thigh meat comes away from bone.
4. Add olives and lemon quarters to casserole and cook, uncovered, for another 10 minutes.
5. Remove chicken, olives, and lemon quarters from casserole with a slotted spoon and place on a platter; set aside, cover, and keep warm. Bring pan juices to a high boil and cook until a very thick sauce forms, about 15 minutes. Spoon sauce over chicken and serve.
Variation: The tagine of lamb with green olives in a succulent sauce that Asma serves at the Lasry house is another version of this recipe. To make the lamb tagine, substitute 4 lbs. of cubed boneless lamb shoulder for the chickens. Increase the cooking time to 1 1/2 hours and proceed as above, omitting chicken livers.