|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Servings: 4 to 6|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 29g||38%|
|Saturated Fat 6g||31%|
|Total Carbohydrate 8g||3%|
|Dietary Fiber 2g||7%|
|Total Sugars 2g|
|Vitamin C 12mg||61%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|
A classic dish, this Moroccan chicken tagine gets tons of flavor from preserved lemons, olives, and onions. It can be cooked on the stovetop in an authentic tagine or roasted in a baking pan in the oven, depending on what equipment you have at your disposal. Either way, you'll enjoy a delicious meal that is sure to please everyone at the dinner table.
What Exactly Is a Tagine?
To the unfamiliar, tagine can be a little confusing, because it's both the name of the dish, and the vessel in which the dish is cooked. Typically made of clay or ceramic, the tagine is used in northern African cuisine, and it is distinguished by its wide, circular base and a cone-shaped top.
The tagine functions like a slow cooker in a sense; the cone shape returns moisture to the base of the tagine, creating a moist and flavorful dish. Traditionally, tagines sit on a bed of charcoal bricks specifically designed to retain their heat for hours. However, home cooks may find it more practical to put the tagine in a low oven or over low heat on the stovetop instead (this recipe uses the stovetop method).
Ingredients You'll Need to Make This Tagine
This recipe includes a number of traditional Moroccan ingredients. Here's a rundown of the ingredients that might be less familiar if you don't cook Moroccan food often.
- Preserved lemons: Lemons preserved in salt add brightness to this dish and you really can't replicate their pickled flavor with lemon juice or zest. You can easily make preserved lemons at home, or you can buy them at well stocked grocery stores, as well as at specialty shops and online.
- Smen: Smen is a preserved butter that has a somewhat cheesy flavor. It's easy to make at home, although it has to sit for at least a month. You can also buy it in specialty stores and online—Zamouri Spices is one source.
- Ras el hanout: While no two versions of the Moroccan spice blend ras el hanout are exactly the same, it typically includes cardamom, nutmeg, anise, mace, cinnamon, ginger, various peppers, and turmeric. This recipe calls for a homemade ras el hanout, but you can also experiment with the blends available from various brands.
- Familiarize yourself with your equipment: If you've never cooked in a tagine before (or if it's been awhile), be sure to read through the manufacturer's instructions and see this guide about how to cook in a Moroccan tagine.
- Cut up a whole chicken: Give people the option of light or dark meat by starting with a whole chicken for this recipe. For either the tagine or the baking pan method, you can cut a whole chicken into either halves or individual pieces prior to marinating. The pieces may fit better in a tagine; the halves are easier to handle in the oven and can be cut after cooking.
- Marinate overnight: You'll get more flavor if you start marinating the chicken with the Moroccan spices the night before you want to cook the tagine.
- Mind the salt: Since the olives, lemons, and smen in this recipe are salty, don't be too liberal with the added salt in this dish—1/2 teaspoon or less.
- Use a heat diffuser: If you're cooking this dish in a tagine on the stovetop, it's important to use a heat diffuser to so the ceramic doesn't crack and break.
- Be flexible about cooking times: The cooking times may vary depending on the size of your chicken. Use the cooking times in the recipe as a guideline and check the internal temperature of the chicken with an instant read thermometer. Cook the chicken until the thermometer registers between 165 and 175 F in the thickest part of the chicken.
How to Serve This Tagine
Moroccan tradition is to eat directly from the tagine, using Moroccan bread to scoop up the chicken and sauce. Belgian fries (patate frite) often top the chicken, though you can use your favorite French fry recipe or heat up packaged fries. Serving rice on the side also helps you soak up the tasty juices.
Click Play to See This Moroccan Chicken Tagine Come Together
"This tagine has a bold, bright flavor infused with preserved lemon, olives, and Middle Eastern spices. Buy chicken pieces to save time. I don't have a tagine, so I roasted the dish in the oven. It was delicious with couscous and roasted cauliflower. I passed lemon wedges and harissa at the table." —Danielle Centoni
1 to 2 preserved lemons, quartered and seeds removed
1 whole chicken, cut into pieces, skin removed, back discarded or reserved for another use
2 large white or yellow onions, finely chopped
2 to 3 cloves garlic, minced
1 small handful fresh cilantro, chopped
1 small handful fresh parsley, chopped
2 teaspoons powdered ginger
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon turmeric (or 1/4 teaspoon Moroccan yellow colorant)
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1/4 teaspoon saffron threads, crumbled, optional
1 teaspoon smen, optional
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon ras el hanout, optional
1/3 cup olive oil
2 handfuls pitted olives (green or red, or mixed)
1/4 cup water, approximately, if using a tagine
Steps to Make It
Marinate the Chicken
Gather the ingredients.
Remove the flesh from the preserved lemons and chop the flesh finely. Reserve rind for cooking.
Add the lemon flesh to a bowl along with the chicken, onion, garlic, cilantro, parsley, ginger, pepper, turmeric, and salt. If using, add the saffron, ras el hanout, and smen. Mix well.
If time allows, let the chicken marinate in the refrigerator for several hours or overnight. Cook in either a tagine or in the oven. (See below for more information on both methods.)
Cooking in a Tagine
Add enough of the olive oil to the tagine to coat the bottom.
Arrange the marinated chicken in the tagine, flesh-side down, and distribute the onions all around.
Add the olives and reserved rind of the preserved lemons, and drizzle the remaining olive oil over the chicken.
Add the water to the tagine, cover, and place on a heat diffuser over medium-low heat. Give the tagine time to reach a simmer without peeking. If you don't hear the tagine simmering within 20 minutes, slightly increase the heat, and then use the lowest heat setting required for maintaining a gentle—not rapid—simmer.
Allow the chicken to cook undisturbed for 80 to 90 minutes, and then turn the chicken over so it's flesh-side up. Cover the tagine again, and allow the chicken to finish cooking until very tender (about 45 minutes to 1 hour).
Turn off the heat, and let the tagine cool for about 10 to 15 minutes before serving. Enjoy.
Cooking in the Oven
Preheat oven to 425 F. Add enough of the olive oil to a large baking dish so it coats the bottom.
Add the sliced onions and garlic from the marinade.
Then place the marinated chicken on top.
Add the olives and reserved rind of the preserved lemons on top and drizzle the chicken with the remaining olive oil.
Bake the chicken uncovered for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until the chicken is light golden brown, basting occasionally.
Reduce the heat to 350 F and continue baking for another 20 to 30 minutes or longer. The chicken should be deeply browned and the juices should run clear.
Remove the chicken from the oven and let it rest for 10 to 15 minutes before serving. Enjoy.