I have participated in FOODIE FRIDAY at Rattlebridge Farm since my friend, Michael Lee, began the weekly event in 2009. It has been a culinary adventure to be sure, and I know there will always be something interesting going on at Michael’s house. When she contacted me several weeks ago and invited me to participate in her new event, The Mystery Ingredient Club, I was all in. I was on pins and needles waiting for my mystery ingredients to arrive…I knew it could be anything…and was secretly hoping it would be something I had never tried before. I was ready for a challenge and wasn’t disappointed. I received preserved lemons prepared several ways and a jar of the most fragrant, delicious lemon salt (from Cyprus) you could ever imagine. I know that preserved lemons are an important ingredient in Moroccan cuisine and decided to do a little exploring in that direction.
Chicken with Lemon and Olives is a classic Moroccan dish and I found many recipes for it. The basic ingredients are herbs and spices, chicken, preserved lemons and olives. It is a type of chicken stew that is traditionally prepared in a tagine, a heavy clay plate with a domed lid that is designed to keep all moisture inside the pot. A cast iron Dutch oven works nicely if you don’t have a tagine. Preserved lemons brighten the flavors and add saltiness, acidity and a strong citrus flavor to the dish. Moroccan food is known for its complex mixture of spices and herbs. Cumin is used in almost every savory dish and is so important in the cuisine that it is served on the table along with salt and pepper.
Moroccan chicken is served with couscous, a traditional North African dish of semolina, tiny granules of durham wheat, that is cooked by steaming. Preparing instant couscous is quick and easy — the dried couscous is added to a pot of boiling water or stock, the pot is then covered and the water is absorbed into the couscous in about five minutes. I dressed it up a bit by adding chopped garbanzo beans, golden raisins and cilantro and made a side dish with lots of flavor and texture. It was delicious with the chicken.
The lemon salt included in my mystery ingredients was a special treat.
It was delicious sprinkled on fresh vegetables and salads and was fantastic on grilled fish fillets. But more about this later.
Thank you so much, Michael Lee, for inviting me to be a part of the first Mystery Ingredient Club event. It was so much fun learning about Moroccan cuisine and ingredients that were new to me. I can’t wait to see the recipes other bloggers have chosen. Visit FOODIE FRIDAY at Rattlebridge Farm to meet all the participants in the very first Mystery Ingredient Club party.
- 2 teaspoons paprika
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon turmeric
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 chicken, 3-4 pounds, cut into 8 pieces, or 3-4 pounds of chicken thighs and legs. Dark meat is more flavorful
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 onion, chopped
- rind from 1 preserved lemon, rinsed in cold water, pulp discarded and cut into thin strips.
- 1 cup green olives, pitted and sliced
- ½ cup garbanzo beans
- ½ cup raisins
- ½ cup water or chicken stock
- ¼ cup fresh cilantro, chopped
- ¼ cup flat leaf parsley, chopped
- Combine all the spices in a large bowl. Pat the chicken pieces dry and put into the bowl, coat well with the spice mixture. Let the chicken stand for one hour in the spices. In a large skillet with a cover heat the oil on medium heat high heat. Place the chicken, skin side down, in the skillet and cook until lightly browned. Lower the heat, add the garlic and onions, cover and cook for 20 minutes.
- Turn the chicken pieces over. Add the lemon slices, olives, raisins, and garbanzo beans and cook for another 30 minutes, until the chicken is tender.
- Mix in fresh parsley and cilantro just before serving. Adjust seasonings to taste. The lemons and olives add salt to the dish so taste before adding more.
- Serve with rice or couscous.