If you've followed this blog at all, you may be a bit surprised - or even, if you're vegetarian, disappointed - to see me writing about a chicken recipe. In fact, this is the first meat dish - other than fish - that I've ever featured here.
So, what has gotten into me? Let me explain ...
I mentioned some time ago that I would be working with meat in culinary school and eating it - albeit infrequently compared to most people - for my work. In school, a recent class focused on chicken fabrication - in other words, the right way to cut up a chicken into eight easy pieces. I thought (reasonably enough, I supposed) having only recently re-entered the world of the omnivore that I would be a little grossed out chopping up a whole chicken carcass.
Well, as it turns out ... I kind of liked it. It was interesting. And challenging. And not only that - I wasn't terrible at it. Go figure! No one, I assure you, was more surprised than I.
I guess I'm just a girl who appreciates the feel of a really sharp boning knife.
So I decided that it would be a good idea to practice my strangely compelling new skill, and given that my mother-in-law recently gifted Poppa Trix and me with a gorgeous handmade tagine, what better thing to make than Moroccan chicken with preserved lemon and olives?
As an aside, the chicken I bought at the farmers market had been pasture raised and fed a vegetarian diet free of antibiotics and all that junk. (I'm telling you, this guy's chickens and pigs probably live better than I do.) While I realize that my culinary school is likely not buying what I would consider to be ethically sourced meats due to cost concerns, on the rare occasion that I buy meat in my personal life I definitely believe in supporting ethical and humane purveyors.
But let's get on with it! *Wipes hands and puts away soapbox.*
I followed a fairly classic recipe, with some variations of my own. As always, for a savory dish like this, I didn't stick to precise amounts. I mixed up my marinade and before adding the chicken to it I tasted it and played with it until it was right.
First, I cut my whole chicken into 8 pieces - but I have decided to spare you the images! You could certainly buy chicken that's already been cut up if you want. For the marinade, I combined about 1/3 cup olive oil, 1 1/2 chopped preserved lemons (many recipes tell you to remove the peel but I don't see the point, it's tastes fine to me), 2 tsp fresh minced ginger, 5 cloves garlic, minced, 1 heaping Tbsp ras al hanout, 1/2 tsp Saigon cinnamon, 1 tsp turmeric, 2 Tbsp finely chopped parsley, and a few healthy grinds of cracked black pepper. (I should have added 1 tsp saffron threads, but I forgot and added it afterward, to the tagine).
This should marinate for at least an hour; more if possible. Next, put a little oil in the bottom on your tagine, and add the chicken with all the marinade. Add one large onion, diced, a few handfuls of green olives, the saffron if you forgot it like I did, and a bouqet of parsley and cilantro:
|Isn't it cute?|
The sweet cherries were fab with the salty tang of the olives and preserved lemon from the tagine. And I never thought I'd type these words, but the chicken was falling-off-the-bone tender, and Poppa Trix and I loved it. No, I haven't turned into a rapacious carnivore; quite the contrary, I still plan to feature plenty of vegetarian recipes here, as that is about 95% (or more) of what I eat in a typical week. Hopefully, though, my forays into the meat-eating world will all be as scrumptious as this: