Chicken Tajine with Olives and Preserved Lemons
Tajine (or tagine) vies with couscous as Morocco's national dish. Tajine is both the name for a vast number of stew-like dishes and the earthenware utensil in which they are cooked. Fish, chicken, lamb or other meats are simmered with an assortment of vegetables, fruits, olives, lemons, herbs and spices to produce richly fragrant, tart, spicy and sweet flavors. Outside of Morocco, traditional tajine pots are hard to find, but we've found that an ordinary covered pot or casserole will work just fine.
Heat the oil in a large saucepan.
Season the chicken pieces with salt and pepper and cook over high heat, turning occasionally, until well-browned all over, about 10 minutes. Add the onions, ginger, cinnamon and saffron and cook for a few minutes longer.
Add the tomatoes, garlic, parsley, cilantro and 2 cups of water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the chicken is tender, about 1 hour.
Meanwhile, rinse the preserved lemons under running water; pat dry. Cut the lemons into quarters. Discard the pulp from one of the lemons and finely chop the peel. Reserve the quarters for garnish.
Transfer the chicken to a large plate. Strain the cooking liquid and return it to the casserole. Boil over high heat until slightly thickened, about 10 minutes. Add the chopped preserved lemons and the olives and simmer over moderate heat for 2 minutes. Add the chicken pieces and simmer until heated through.
Arrange the chicken pieces on a serving dish. Pour the sauce on top and garnish with the lemon quarters.
You can enjoy tajines in a variety of ways - by dipping crusty bread directly into the communal pot, or with a side dish of potatoes or rice.