With our latest blast of chilly weather (here in South Florida it actually got down to 45 degrees!) I was looking for a dish that was not only comforting…but also had a glamorous, exotic edge. So when I came across this recipe for Moroccan Chicken Tagine with Preserved Lemons I knew I’d found what I was looking for.
Thankfully, my culinary instincts were spot on (LOVE when that happens!). This dish features succulent chicken thighs simmered in a hearty, fragrant broth with exotic, savory herbs and spices including ginger, sweet paprika, cilantro, turmeric and saffron. My fellow foodies, this delightful recipe perfumed our home with the most wonderful aromas and dazzled our palates with its toe-curling deliciousness.
Not only is it delicious, this Chicken Tagine is also super fun to make on a lazy day and is guaranteed to reward your patience. The glorious finishing touch is the addition of preserved lemons (that you’re gonna make yourself!) which accentuate the dish’s complex flavors with their citrusy goodness.
But first things first…what the flip is a tagine?
A tagine, also spelled tajine, is a North African dish named after the conical-shaped earthenware pot it is cooked in. This stew of meat, chicken or fish is cooked in the broad-based bottom, historically over hot coals, where the steam accumulates in the narrow, cone-shaped top and drips back down onto the stew, preserving all the delicious flavor. Luckily, a stove top works just as well and while a tagine still takes some time to cook, the sublime flavor is well worth the wait.
The first issue at hand when preparing this Moroccan Chicken Tagine is to make the preserved lemons. Preserved lemons? I’m supposed to MAKE preserved lemons? I hear your inner panic brewing but before you spiral into a full blown anxiety attack let me assure you, this step couldn’t be easier.
Simply slice up 2-3 lemons, toss then in a glass baking dish, sprinkle them with Kosher salt and cook them low and slow for 3 hours. The result is salty, lemony deliciousness and I would advise you to hang on to the liquid the lemons are cooked in. It makes a fabulous seasoning for the finished dish. Instead of salt, just douse it with a little briny, lemony elixir.
The next step is the marinating of the chicken thighs. Oooooh what’s better than skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs? Just pop those beauties into a gallon sized ziploc bag with the fragrant, flavorful mixture of cumin, garlic, ginger, paprika, onion, oil, salt, pepper and preserved lemon pulp. Ideally, they should marinate in the fridge overnight for maximum flavor, but if you forget to do this the night before, 4-6 hours of marination will do just fine.
Then, it’s time to tagine – why can’t it be a verb too? If you are the proud owner of a Le Creuset Dutch oven (I especially love my 9 1/2 quart oval one) or an actual tagine, dust that baby off and prepare yourself for the deliciousness at hand. From here on out you simply simmer the chicken thighs and the marinade with the parsley and cilantro stem bundle, onion, turmeric and saffron threads. Over the course of the next 30 minutes, you’ll layer in the remaining ingredients and you’ve got one fabulously mean tagine. Sorry I just couldn’t help myself!
Simply serve over a bed of fragrant Basmatic rice and you are good to go, well, except for one crucial component…the wine!
While I was partially inspired by the weather, a special wine also played a role in making this recipe, the 2014 Casa Abril Godello ($17). This delightful white wine from Spanish wine specialist and Casa Abril owner, April Cullom, hails from the Valdeorras DO, located in northwest Spain. It is 100% Godello, a native Spanish white grape variety, from 25-40 year old vines.
Fermented entirely in stainless steel, this Godello has lovely aromas of saline and citrus while on the palate, notes of apple, peach, lemon zest and a hint of almond skin accompany a bright, food-friendly acidity. This wine immediately had me thinking of food and it paired brilliantly with the flavors and textures of the Moroccan Chicken Tagine. You’ll be reading more about April and her wonderful wines in next month’s Inspiring Women post so stay tuned.
If you’d like to see this month’s installment featuring some fabulous, female, James Beard Award-winning Chefs, please click here.
I hope you enjoy this Moroccan Chicken Tagine with Preserved Lemon as much as we do. Paired with the Casa Abril Godello it has quickly become one of our favorites. Definitely put it on your “To Do” list for your next snow day OR lazy Saturday. I guarantee you won’t be disappointed and I hope it brings comforting deliciousness to a cozy day.
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