Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Braised Moroccan Chicken with Lemon and Olives

Yet another chicken stew recipe for you! Are you guys excited? Well, you should be. Because, even though I've probably made just about every single type of stewed/braised chicken under the sun, this still stands out as being an especially good iteration. The chicken is browned until crisp in a large skillet or Dutch oven, and then smothered in a fragrant, heady mixture of spices, and finally simmered in stock until it's falling-off-the-bone tender. The last-minute addition of a handful of olives and preserved lemon rinds adds an extra zing of taste that really makes this dish sing.

I lifted the recipe out of my brand new copy of the newly released Food52 cookbook, which I spent most of the weekend reading from cover to cover. I couldn't really tear myself away. It's filled with the winning recipes from the best home cooks in their robust online community, complete with mini bios, notes from the rest of the community, and recipe prefaces from Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs, the founders of the site. Really, it's a fantastic concept, and I'm only jealous I didn't think of it first (or have Hesser's star power to drive it home, for that matter). In any case, I highly recommend it! It's a perfect hostess gift for those Thanksgiving dinners or, for you early holiday-shoppers, for the cook on your gift list. xo

Braised Moroccan Chicken with Lemon and Olives
From The Food52 Cookbook, by Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs 
4 tablespoons canola oil
2.5 pounds chicken legs and thighs
Kosher salt
Black pepper
1 1/2 cup small diced onion
1 teaspoon minced ginger
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2-3 cups chicken stock
1/4 teaspoon saffron
1/2 cup green olives, rinsed
2 preserved lemons, pulp removed; rind cut into strips
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro

Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a Dutch oven or large, deep skillet or over medium high heat. Dry the chicken pieces and season them with salt and pepper. Place them in the skillet in batches and brown on all sides. Remove the chicken and place on a plate.

Add the onion to the skillet and cook until slightly softened. Add the ginger, garlic, coriander, cumin, paprika, turmeric and cayenne pepper and stir together. Add the chicken pieces and stir to coat with the spice mixture. Pour the chicken stock into the skillet so that 2/3 of the chicken is submerged. Add the saffron and stir to combine. Bring liquid to a simmer, cover the skillet and simmer on medium low heat 20-25 minutes. Add the olives and preserved lemons. Cover and cook another 10 minutes or until chicken is cooked through. Remove the chicken and turn the heat to high. Cook for another 6-8 minutes until sauce reduces slightly. Stir in the cilantro. Adjust seasoning to taste.

Serve chicken on a bed of couscous. Spoon sauce over the top. Garnish with cilantro.