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Moroccan Chicken with Olives and Lemon (Chicken Tagine) Recipe


Time-consuming techniques and esoteric ingredients make cooking authentic Moroccan chicken a daunting proposition. We wanted a recipe that was ready in an hour and relied on supermarket staples. For depth and flavor, we used a mix of white and dark chicken and browned the meat first. After removing the chicken from the pot, we sautéed onion, strips of lemon zest, garlic, and a spice blend in the leftover brown bits and some oil; this ensured that no flavor went to waste. A number of everyday spices were necessary to recreate the authentic notes in Moroccan chicken, including paprika, cumin, cayenne, ginger, coriander, and cinnamon; honey contributed a missing sweetness. Greek green olives provided the meatiness and piquant flavor of hard-to-find Moroccan olives. Chopped cilantro, stirred in right before serving, was the perfect finishing touch to our exotic dinner.

Bone-in chicken parts can be substituted for the whole chicken. For best results, use four chicken thighs and two chicken breasts, each breast split in half; the dark meat contributes valuable flavor to the broth and should not be omitted. Use a vegetable peeler to remove wide strips of zest from the lemon before juicing it. Make sure to trim any white pith from the zest, as it can impart bitter flavor. If the olives are particularly salty, give them a rinse. Serve with couscous (see related recipe).


1 1/4teaspoons sweet paprika
1/2teaspoon ground cumin
1/4teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2teaspoon ground ginger
1/4teaspoon ground coriander
1/4teaspoon ground cinnamon
3strips lemon zest (each about 2 inches by 3/4 inch)
3tablespoons fresh lemon juice, from 1 to 2 lemons
5medium cloves garlic, minced or pressed through garlic press (about 5 teaspoons)
1 whole chicken (3 1/2 to 4 pounds), cut into 8 pieces (4 breast pieces, 2 thighs, 2 drumsticks; wings reserved for another use) and trimmed of excess fat
Salt and ground black pepper
1tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion, halved and cut into 1/4-inch slices (about 3 cups)
1 3/4cups low-sodium chicken broth
1tablespoon honey
2 medium carrots, peeled and cut crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick coins, very large pieces cut into half-moons (about 2 cups)
1cup Greek cracked green olives, pitted and halved
2tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves



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