Braised Chicken with Moroccan Spices, Preserved Lemon, and Green Olives

Braised Chicken with Moroccan Spices, Preserved Lemon, and Green Olives

Preserved lemons and olives are mainstays of Moroccan cuisine for a good reason - they add a concentrated does of briny, sharp flavor that really elevates a braised dish, keeping it feeling light and fresh even as you've gently cooked dark meat chicken thighs into luxurious tenderness. The spice blend here is just right - a little heat, a little warmth, a little earthiness from the coriander, cumin, paprika, turmeric and cayenne. A touch of saffron adds another layer of flavor. Enjoy this dish over a bed of Israeli couscous to soak up all the delicious sauce - you won't want to let a drop go to waste!

Spices used in this recipe

Coriander, Ground
Cumin Ground
Paprika, Hungarian Sweet
Turmeric, Ground
Cayenne Pepper
Salt, Kosher
Peppercorns, Tellicherry, Grinder



  1. Pat the chicken thighs dry with a paper towel and season both sides with kosher salt and ground pepper.
  2. In a Dutch oven or large skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. When the oil is shimmering, add the seasoned chicken, skin-side down, and brown on both sides. When chicken is browned, remove to a plate and set aside.
  3. Drain all but 2 Tbs. of fat from the pan and heat over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook until softened and beginning to brown. Stir in the ginger and garlic and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Stir in the coriander, cumin, paprika, turmeric, and cayenne and cook for 1 more minute.
  4. Place the chicken thighs back in the pot, using tongs to coat each side with the onion-spice mixture. Pour in any juices that have collected on the plate. Add the stock to the pan, until the chicken is ⅔ submerged. Stir the saffron threads into the stock.
  5. Bring the pan to a boil, partially cover, and lower to a gentle simmer. Simmer on low heat for 20 minutes, then stir in the olives and preserved lemon strips. Partially cover the pan again and gently simmer until chicken is fully cooked, around 10 minutes more.
  6. Remove the chicken pieces to a serving dish and raise the heat under the pan to medium. Simmer the sauce until reduced slightly, about 6-8 minutes. Be sure to taste the sauce as it reduces -- the preserved lemon and olives will add quite a bit of salt.
  7. Pour the sauce over the chicken pieces, sprinkle with chopped cilantro, and serve with Israeli couscous. You can also use two forks to remove the meat from the bone and shred it into the sauce if you prefer.

Serves 6. Adapted from Food 52.

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