Chicken with Lemon & Olives

23 Feb

This aromatic chicken stew is one of the classic Moroccan tagine dishes. You can make it as fiery hot as you like depending on how much harissa paste you add. A tagine gets its name from the dish in which it is cooked, an earthenware pot with a conical lid. We don’t have such a dish so I use a heavy cast iron casserole pan with a lid and cook it on the hob or in the oven, it tastes just as good.
Serves 4-6 Prep 15min + marinade time Cook 1 hour

  • 1 free range chicken jointed into small pieces or 4 chicken legs
  • 1-2 tbsp harissa paste
  • 2 tbsp Olive oil
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • handful dried apricots, sliced
  • handful green olives, cracked
  • 1 large or 2 small preserved lemons finely sliced
  • 300ml tomato passata (peeled sieved fresh tomato) 
  • water to cover
  • sea salt + cracked black pepper
  • Handful fresh coriander or parsley leaves

Season the chicken pieces and rub with half the harissa paste then leave to marinate for at least 30mins.
Heat the oil in a large heavy pan and fry the onions until golden, add the garlic and then add the chicken pieces and fry gently until sealed keep moving the pieces around to prevent sticking. Add the olives, lemons, and apricots, passata and enough stock or water to cover the chicken liberally. Cover and cook over a low heat until the chicken is falling off the bone, about 1 hour. Serve on a bed of couscous and garnish with coriander or fresh mint leaves.


Cook’s Tip you can buy harissa and preserved lemons from good food shops and delis selling north African products but you can also make your own harissa paste its pretty easy. If you prefer a milder dish make a milder paste by crushing and mixing up 2” piece of ginger, 3 cloves garlic, 1 tsp ground cinnamon, 1 tsp ground cumin and a pinch of saffron rub it into the chicken as you would have the harissa. You can buy ready made pasata or peel and sieve out fresh tomatoes when they are in season. We make large batches of pasata during the summer and freeze it, or just use a ti of tomatoes chopped or pushed through a sieve.

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