Thursday, 16 June 2016

Moroccan Spiced Chicken, Quince, Green Olives and Preserved Lemon

Recently, I was invited to a gathering for lunch, one of those events where you are asked to bring along a dish to share. Our hosts had established a Middle Eastern theme. This is a great way for a large group to catch up and it spreads the work load. Some were allocated nibbles, others dessert or sweet treats with coffee. I was asked to bring a meat dish. With plenty of time to get organised I decided to make Morrocan Spiced Chicken with Quince,Green Olives and Preserved Lemon.

This is one of those dishes that can be made and eaten but is really much better made in advance and making it perfect for the event. It reheats very well but try to avoid stirring vigorously. As with all recipes adjust to suit your palate. Use less harissa if you do not like chilli and add more lemon if needed. Do not use salt as the preserved lemon and olives are quite salty

The garnish is a Middle Eastern take on gremolata, the traditional parsley, garlic and lemon served with osso bucco.

Home made preserved lemon, the larger pieces are from Lisbon or Eureka lemons and the smaller from Meyer. Meyer lemons have a thinner skin and are not as good for preserving. Preserved lemon is used a lot in Middle Eastern cooking. You can get the recipe for preserved lemons here 

Lamb and beef could be substituted for the chicken, however, as they are both tougher than chicken you will need to allow more time for cooking. Tart green apple such as Granny Smith could be substituted for the quince. The marinated chicken from stage one is also delicious if barbecued, grilled or baked on a shallow tray in a very hot oven.

Moroccan Spiced Chicken
Quince, Green Olives and Preserved Lemon

Stage 1
1 kg boneless chicken thighs

1  -2 tablespoons of oil
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon Ras el Hanout
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
1 tablespoon Harissa

Cut each thigh into two pieces.

Make a paste of the spices and oil. Add chicken and mix well making sure that the chicken is coated. Add a little extra oil if the paste is too stiff. Refrigerate overnight.

Stage 2
2 onions, thinly sliced
2-3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tablespoon cumin powder
1/4 teaspoon dried chilli flakes
1/3 cup lemon juice
2 cups passata sauce
4 quinces*, peeled, cored and cut into eight chunks
1/2 preserved lemon (at least 1 tablespoon chopped), rinsed and rind/skin only
150 g split green olives
1/2 bunch coriander, chopped

*if quince is unavailable use tart apples and a little more lemon juice.

Heat a little oil in a pan.
Brown the chicken pieces do not overcrowd the pan and cook a few pieces at a time. When all chicken is brown remove and keep warm.
Add a little more oil to the pan and add onion, reduce heat and cook until softened, add crushed garlic, cumin and chilli if using. Cook a further minute.
Add passata, lemon juice, quince pieces and preserved lemon, simmer until quince is just tender and then add green olives and chopped coriander. Check flavours and add freshly ground black pepper. Simmer for a few more minutes.
*I like to refrigerate and leave this overnight and then reheat.

Stage 3 / Garnish (optional)
1/4 preserved lemon, rinsed and rind/skin only
1/2 bunch coriander, chopped
1-2 cloves garlic, crushed

Finely chop the preserved lemon, add coriander and garlic and mix well. Scatter over the casserole just before serving.

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