Are you having a “special someone” over for a date night soon? Did someone invite you over for dinner only to burden you with being responsible for the main course (or maybe that just happens in Israel)? This cooked in under an hour, required little attention but tasted like a wise grandma with chubby fingers and been infusing it with love for hours. This will impress everyone, but be ware young lovers: you might just set the bar too high.
Many accidental forces united to create this dinner: an uncharacteristically indulgent purchase of Pereg Spices’ Tunisian harissa (spicy chili sauce), a can of green olives I bought in order to make a completely different dinner with but lost the recipe, the accidental purchase two weeks in a row of too many lemons and that good ‘ol meat craving that only a week of avoidance can inspire.
Don’t ask me why this is necessarily Moroccan, since I used Tunisian Harissa and Israeli green olives. I suppose it’s because I intended on using preserved lemons (but hadn’t made them in time) and laying the dish over a bed of couscous. So this is really more like “Intentional Moroccan Chicken With Lemons, Green Olives and Harissa.” Nevertheless, it looks like something I ate in Morocco last year, and if it looks like a duck…it could be a real one. If I owned a beautifully ornate tagine, I would have served it in it and then there would be no cause for question, so I think that might be reason enough to go buy one. What do you think?
Nevertheless, the last two posts have been intended to prepare you for this dinner, which was absolutely fantastic. So, if you can make the quick preserved lemons a few hours ahead of time, as well as the harissa, then you have all your ducks in a row to make this dish. But you can also just use a regular lemon.
What you need:
1 kg of chicken breast (you could use any part of the chicken you like or even a whole chicken)
1 1/2 c pitted green olives
1 lemon; sliced into thin coins OR one lemon’s worth of the preserved lemons; sliced into thin coins and also chopped
1 c chicken broth
1 large yellow onion; chopped
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp each of cumin, turmeric and cayenne pepper
2 heaping tblsp harissa
2 garlic cloves; minced
1 tsp fresh ginger; grated
salt & pepper to taste (I used about 1/2 a tsp of each)
2 tblsp date honey (or regular honey or agave nectar)
3/4 c fresh parsley; finely chopped
1/2 cut fresh mint; finely chopped
**A note on the lemon: Unless you’re using an organic lemon, if you’re going to use just a regular one, try boiling it for 10 minutes first so that some of the sprays or wax wear off and give it a good scrub with a towel after. Then add it to the meal.
How to do it:
Combine cumin, cayenne pepper, salt, pepper, turmeric and cinnamon in a bowl and mix together well. Sprinkle over chicken, rubbing the mixture all over both sides. Heat up some oil over medium heat and place your chicken into the pot and let cook until both sides have browned (and yellowed from the the turmeric), which will take about five minutes per side. Once cooked, set aside on a plate until the onions have finished.
Add the chopped onion to the pot and saute for about five minutes. Add the garlic and ginger and saute for another few minutes. Put the chicken back into the pot.
Add the honey, broth, lemons, olives and harissa. Turn the heat to low, cover and cook for 30 minutes. Add the mint and parsley, give it a quick stir and serve over brown rice or couscous. Enjoy!