This recipe was originally published on Once Upon a Chef.
Chicken tajine is a traditional Moroccan dish of chicken pieces braised with spices, garlic, onion, olives, and preserved lemons. It’s company-worthy yet easy to throw together.
Tweaked a bit from Cook’s Illustrated, this is my favorite chicken tagine, the traditional Moroccan dish of chicken pieces braised with spices, garlic, onion, olives, and preserved lemons. It’s festive and company-worthy yet also easy enough to throw together on a not-too-busy weeknight. The word tagine refers to the shallow clay vessel with a cone-shaped lid that the dish is traditionally cooked in, but you don’t need one to make it.
I use a large cast-iron braiser; a wide Dutch oven or a heavy covered skillet will work, too. The recipe does not call for preserved lemons, a specialty ingredient that can be difficult to find. Instead, lemon zest and fresh lemon juice add tart brightness to the dish. Serve the chicken on a platter or individual plates atop a bed of couscous.
WHAT YOU’LL NEED TO MAKE CHICKEN TAGINE
While you can use a whole cut-up chicken for chicken tagine, my preference is to use bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs only. They provide a good amount of meat and remain tender even if slightly overcooked, and the bones and skin add depth of flavor and richness to the sauce (though the skin is removed midway through cooking). Sometimes, I pull the meat off the bone before serving — makes it easier and more appealing for the kids to eat — but serving the chicken on the bone is traditional.
HOW TO MAKE CHICKEN TAGINE
To begin, combine the spices in small bowl.
Mix well and set aside.
Zest the lemon. Combine 1 teaspoon of the lemon zest with 1 minced garlic clove; set aside.
Season both sides of chicken pieces with 2 teaspoons salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper.
Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed pan over medium-high heat until beginning to smoke. Brown the chicken pieces skin side down in single layer until deep golden, about 5 minutes.
Using tongs, flip the chicken pieces over and brown the other side, about 4 minutes more.
Transfer the chicken to a large plate; when cool enough to handle, peel off the skin and discard.
Pour off and discard all but 1 tablespoon of fat from the pan, reduce the heat to medium, and add the onion.
Cook, stirring occasionally, until they have browned at the edges but still retain their shape, 5 to 7 minutes (add a few tablespoons of water if the pan gets too dark).
Add the remaining minced garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the spices and flour.
Cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
Stir in the broth, honey, remaining lemon zest, and 1/4 teaspoon salt, scraping the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon to loosen any browned bits.
Add the chicken (with any accumulated juices) back in, reduce the heat to medium-low, cover and simmer for 10 minutes.
Scatter the carrots around the chicken, cover, and simmer until the chicken is cooked through and the carrots are tender-crisp, about 10 minutes more.
Add the olives, garlic-zest mixture, cilantro, and 1 tablespoon of the lemon juice.
Stir to combine and adjust seasoning with salt, pepper, and more lemon juice, if desired.
Serve with couscous.