Chicken with Preserved Lemon and Olives

  • Serves

    serves 12

At the Hotel La Mamounia in Marrakech, Chef Boujemaa Mars prepares this dish in a traditional earthenware tagine.


  • 3 whole (2 1/2 - 3-lb.) chickens, with livers
  • 4 cups white wine vinegar
  • 2 cups kosher salt, plus more for seasoning
  • 5 medium red onions, peeled and chopped
  • 2 bunches cilantro, trimmed and chopped
  • 1 bunch parsley, trimmed and chopped
  • 14 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 10 12 oz. (2 1/2 sticks) butter, cubed
  • 12 Tbsp. ground ginger
  • 1 (3") cinnamon stick
  • 2 12 tsp. saffron threads
  • 2 tsp. ground turmeric
  • Freshly ground white pepper
  • Juice of 3 lemons
  • 2 cups kalamata olives
  • 6 preserved lemon rinds (remove and discard pulp), cut in large pieces


Step 1

Rinse chickens (set livers aside). Combine vinegar, salt, and 12 cups cold water in a large pot and stir until salt dissolves. Add chickens and soak for 1-2 hours; drain and rinse well.

Step 2

Put chickens in a large, wide, heavy pot. Add onions, cilantro, parsley, garlic, butter, ginger, cinnamon, saffron, and turmeric, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Add 10 cups water, cover, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium and simmer, spooning sauce over chickens occasionally, until chickens are just cooked through, 30-40; minutes. Transfer chickens to a large platter and cover loosely with foil.

Step 3

Add lemon juice to pot along with half the olives and half the lemon rinds. Increase heat to medium-high and boil, skimming off foam and stirring sauce often until thickened and reduced by two-thirds, about 1 1⁄2 hours. Reduce heat to medium-low, add reserved chicken livers and remaining lemon rinds and olives. Return chickens and any accumulated juices to pot. Spoon sauce over chickens, then cover and cook until they are heated through, 20-30 minutes. Transfer chickens, olives, lemon rinds, and sauce to a serving platter.

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